Murray Head was born in London to a documentary filmmaker and an actress. His younger brother Anthony Head is also an actor. Head is fluent in French as he was educated at the Lycée Français in South Kensington, London as well as at Hampton School. He began writing songs as a child. Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber asked him to play Judas Iscariot on the original concept album version of their musical Jesus Christ Superstar, and his song "Superstar" became a pop hit in 1971.
He made his film debut in The Family Way (1966) and had a leading role in Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971). His 1975 single release, "Say It Ain't So Joe," from the album of the same name, was a hit. In 1984, Tim Rice and his collaborators Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, formerly of ABBA, asked Head to perform the role of Frederick "Freddie" Trumper on their concept album for the new musical Chess. His song "One Night in Bangkok" was made into a music video and became a major hit on the USA and Europe. Head went on to perform the role of Trumper in the London West End stage production of Chess that premiered in May 1986. He has released a number of albums in French. The 1993 song "Une femme un homme," a duet with Marie Carmen, became a hit in French-speaking Canada.
He has appeared on a number of television series in the UK, including The Bill, Casualty, Judge John Deed and Heartbeat.