James & Bobby Purify – I’m Your Puppet

10th January 2024 · 1960s, 1966, Music, Soul

Just as punk began to take over my musical life in 1976 this slice of smooth soul hit the UK charts. But this isn’t them… well, one of them is but the other one isn’t.

It was actually not just a re-release – James and Bobby Purify had first released I’m Your Puppet a decade earlier – but a re-recording with a new singer.

By the time it was re-released the original ‘Bobby Purify’ – Robert Dickey, seen here – had retired and been replaced by Ben Moore, who adopted the same stage name.

The re-released version took them to No.12 in April 1976 though I came across it just now when it was featured in Fargo’s fantastic fifth season.

The first Florida duo were not brothers but cousins – James Purify from Pensacola and his cousin Robert Dickey from Tallahassee – and started singing together in 1965.

I’m Your Puppet, written by Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn and recorded at Muscle Shoals Studios in Alabama, was their first hit a year later.

They had a couple more smaller hits, including Morning Glory and a cover of Shake A Tail Feather, but broke up in 1971 when Dickey retired from the music biz for health reasons and became a city maintenance supervisor back in Tallahassee.

A few years later James teamed up with Ben Moore, who had worked with Otis Redding and James Brown, to form the duo Ben and Spence, before Brown adopted the same stage name as his predecessor and became the new ‘Bobby Purify’.

In 1998 Moore went blind from glaucoma but, after initially retiring, returned to performing with the encouragement of Ray Charles and later joined the gospel group The Blind Boys Of Alabama. James died from Covid in 2021 and the second Bobby (Ben Moore) died in 2022.