Richards was blinded in the left eye at the age of four in an archery accident, and lost sight in the right eye as well some years later. He first began playing in a group called The Five Pearls while still a teen in the 1950s. His first appearance on record was a single titled "All About Ann", released on Cincinnati, Ohio label Fraternity Records.
He moved to Los Angeles with an ensemble in the early 1960s, but his band failed and he returned to West Virginia. Later in the 1960s he moved to New York City. He played the uptown East Side local Bar's (Malachy's II) (72nd & Lexington) and eventually found success in New York. He released his debut album on Warner Bros. Records in 1970. He scored two minor hit singles in the US in the early 1970s. Further releases followed later in the decade, as did a third hit in 1980.
Richards made the first recording of Tom Snow and Nan O'Byrne's "You Might Need Somebody", which was subsequently a UK hit twice, reaching number 11 hit for Randy Crawford in 1981 and number 4 for Shola Ama in 1997.
On September 1, 2011 Turley Richards said "My! the world is crazy. I just found out this week that Richard Turley (my given name before changing it) on Fraternity Records in 1959 song 'Making Love With My Baby' has put me in the Rockabilly Hall of fame. I'm so flattered."