He was born in Ankara, Turkey in 1950. He moved to Istanbul after starting elementary school which he finished at Sultanahmet Elementary School in Istanbul. He completed his middle school and high school education at Kadıköy Anadolu Lisesi which is also commonly known as Kadıköy Maarif College. He graduated from the University of Istanbul, Faculty of Chemistry.
He started playing guitar while at Kadıköy Maarif Koleji. Another popular composer and singer Mazhar Alanson (from the band MFÖ) was at the same school although it is not clear whether they were friends. He played with some groups, including Damlalar (Drops). His music has been influenced by various artists, including The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Donovan and Bob Dylan. His first long play was called “Anlamsız” (Meaningless), which he published while in college.
In 1974, his first album was released under the title “Benimle Oynar Mısın?” (Will You Play with Me?), considered to be a classic. Onno Tunç and Ergun Pekcan were among those who helped the recording and mastering of his albums.
He took a ten-year break from music after he got married. During this time, he worked as a chemical engineer at companies like Pfizer and Netaş Telecom. During 1985, Ortaçgil played with Fikret Kızılok at "Çekirdek Müzikevi"; this performance yielded to a non-published copy album “Bizim Şarkılarımız …”.
The album “Pencere Önü Çiçeği” (Windowsill Flower) was published in 1986. The song Pencere Önü Çiçeği was another classic, criticizing an intellectual, isolated life against a life "outside the window."
In 1991 came the album called “Oyuna Devam” (Let the game continue). The album gathered some of his old band friends such as Erkan Oğur, Cem Aksel and Gürol Ağırbaş, who had been playing together for over 10 years.
In 2000, a tribute album called “Şarkılar bir Oyundur” (Songs Are a Game) was published, featuring performances from 22 different Turkish singers and bands, spanning a wide genre of music among them.
He frequently uses the theme "game"/"play" in his songs.
- 1974 - Benimle Oynar Mısın?
- 1984 - Rüzgara Söylenen Şarkılar
- 1985 - Biz Şarkılarımızı...
- 1986 - Pencere Önü Çiçeği
- 1990 - 2. Perde
- 1991 - Oyuna Devam
- 1994 - Bu Şarkılar Adam Olmaz
- 1998 - Light
- 1999 - Eski Defterler
- 2000 - Şarkılar Bir Oyundur (tribute album)
- 2003 - Gece Yalanları
- 2010 - Sen
- 2017 - Senfonik Ortaçgil (concert DVD)