Jan-Michael Vincent was born on July 15, 1944 in Denver, Colorado. His father, Lloyd Vincent had a business making signs and bildboards where Jan got a job after he graduated from High school in Hanford, California in 1963.
Vincent attended Ventura College in Southern California. His career took off in the late 1960s when casting agent Dick Clayton signed him to Universal Studios.
Vincent made an appearance on the Dragnet 1968 episode, "The Grenade," as a muscular high school student who suffered an acid attack by a mentally unstable fellow classmate. In 1969 Vincent had a starring role in the prime time soap opera The Survivors, alongside Lana Turner and George Hamilton; however, the series was canceled at midseason.
Vincent co-starred with Charles Bronson in the crime film The Mechanic, and went on to star in the cult surfing film Big Wednesday with William Katt and Gary Busey
Vincent startled audiences with his full frontal nudity in the 1974 romance Buster and Billie.
Then starred in the cult classic trucker movie White Line Fever and Baby Blue Marine a war film.
Vincent was cast as Stringfellow Hawke for the action-espionage series Airwolf, in which Vincent co-starred with Ernest Borgnine and is the role for which he is best known and remembered, as well as for his rate of pay. It was noted, at the time, that Vincent's salary for his work on Airwolf was the highest paid (rumoured to be $200,000 per episode) of any actor in American television. While filming Airwolf, Vincent admitted to drug and alcohol problems for which he has sought help.
After the end of Airwolf Vincent found roles in smaller budget and lower exposure film projects.
Vincent was involved in two severe automobile collisions which he barely survived. As a result of one accident in 1996, in which Vincent broke three vertebrae in his neck, he sustained a permanent injury to his vocal cords from an emergency medical procedure. This has left him with a permanently raspy voice.
As of 2008, Vincent resides in Vicksberg, Mississippi.