After a successful run as “Dr. Al Robbins” on the CBS crime drama, CSI, actor Robert David Hall is ready to show the world he can do more than act.
Although best known for his acting, Hall is also a gifted songwriter, singer and guitarist. Things They Don’t Teach You in School, Hall’s debut album, will be released on June 1.
Growing up in New York, Hall was seduced by the sound of Les Paul’s guitar and the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. At eight he picked up the ukulele and in second grade started playing the French horn. After moving to California in ninth grade, Hall finally got an electric guitar and began playing surfer music with The Emulators.
While in California, Hall began to immerse himself in the music scene; hanging around the likes of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Hoyt Axton, Joe & Eddie and Dick Dale & The Del-tones.
A motorcycle accident caused Hall to stay at UCLA for an extra semester. It was there that he discovered his natural acting abilities. After graduating from UCLA, Hall was accepted into law school, but chose to chase music rather than papers. “That frosted my dad,” Hall recalled.
After graduation, Hall toured the country with a series of professional bands, which he referred to as “corny.” “It got old,” Hall said. “The experience helped me realize what I didn’t want to be.”
No stranger to adversity, Hall lost both of his legs in a tragic car accident in 1978. Much like the accident that ultimately led Hall to discover his acting talents, this tragedy led him down yet another path. After returning to his on-air radio job, an executive from CBS Radio heard him and was taken with his voice.
Hall auditioned for, and ultimately got, a position with KNX-FM, a new free-form radio station. He began to make a name for himself as a popular air personality, as well as a music director. His on-air popularity led Hall into voice-over work, which ultimately led him back into acting. Hall made appearances on several television shows including West Wing, Touched by an Angel, L.A. Law and The Practice.
It wasn’t until his brother Steve fell ill to cancer a few years ago that Hall began to find his way back to music.
“I don’t think Judy even knew that I’d been writing songs; I think I surprised her,” Hall said of his wife.
With the encouragement of an old friend, Chris Wall, Hall went to Austin to polish and record his songs. “(Austin was) the best time I’ve had in 30 years. Every day in Austin was a great day, I got pushed, I learned things and now I want to take more risks,” Hall said.
The result of his trip to Austin is Things They Don’t Teach You in School, an Americana record. Hall wrote or co-wrote nine of the album’s 12 tracks.
“Music is part of every day to me. Music was the first art form I ever had. I want to play and sing and write songs until I can’t anymore. I know that being on this hugely rated TV show has given me a platform but, as far as music is concerned, I think I can stand on my own two feet,” Hall said.
In addition to being an actor and musician, Hall is also an activist. He serves on the Board of Directors of the National Organization on Disability and is a National Chairman of the Performers with Disabilities Caucus for the Screen Actors Guild, The American Federation of Television and Radio Actors and the Actors Equity Association.
As one of the most prominent actors with a physical disability, Hall has addressed Congress and the United Nations on disability issues.
Hall’s life has seen tragedy and triumph. Things They Don’t Teach You in School is a reflection of his life, talent and the lessons he has learned along the way.
Things They Don’t Teach You In School tracklisting:
Kick It To The Side Of The Road (Robert David Hall)
Wondering Where You Are (Robert David Hall)
Things They Don’t Teach You In School (Robert David Hall)
It Just Is (Robert David Hall)
(Keep On) Pushin’ It Through (Chris Wall/Robert David Hall)
One Door Closes ((Robert David Hall/Chris Wall)
Wishes (Robert David Hall)
For Judy (Robert David Hall)
I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight (Chris Wall)
Sittin’ On Top Of The World (Lonnie Carter/Walter Jacobs)
Ten O’Clock Train (Robert David Hall)
Just Because (Bob Shelton, Joe Shelton, Sid Robin)