Mike Ladd was born in the United States but his family returned to Australia when he was one year old, and he grew up at Blackwood in the Adelaide Hills. He holds a B.A. (in English and Philosophy) from Adelaide University. In 1980 he formed 'The Drum Poets' who perform his poetry using conventional instruments and found objects. During the 1980s he travelled in Europe and Africa, gathering information about drums and drumming.
Ladd has worked extensively with broadcasting. In the 1970s he co-produced with Span Hanna (qv) a programme of contemporary modern writing for Radio 5UV, 'Radio Active Poetry'. In London he worked on short-term contracts for the BBC and the British Institute of Recorded Sound and in 1983, he began working for ABC Radio. Since 1997 he has been producer and presenter of the Radio National poetry programme 'PoeticA'. He has written a number of plays for ABC Radio, has made sound recordings of music and poetry, and video poems.