David Hesmondhalgh was born in Accrington, England in 1963. He studied at the University of Oxford, Northwestern University, and Goldsmiths, University of London, where he gained his PhD. He has a Chair in Media Industries at the University of Leeds, where he is Head of the Institute of Communications Studies. His main research interests include music, and the making of cultural goods.
He lives in a small town in the Yorkshire hills, near enough to Blackburn Rovers Football Club to be a season ticket holder, and near enough to Leeds and Bradford to enjoy live music and good food there. He is a fairly active member of the UK Green Party. His partner is Helen Steward, a philosopher, and they have two children, Rosa Hesmondhalgh and Joe Hesmondhalgh. His sister is the actor Julie Hesmondhalgh.