James & Bobby Purify

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James & Bobby Purify
James Lee Purify and Robert Lee Dickey
James Lee Purify and Robert Lee Dickey
Background information
GenresRhythm and blues, soul
Years active1965–1971, 1974–1980s
LabelsBell, Casablanca
Past membersJames Lee Purify
Robert Lee Dickey ("Bobby Purify" I)
Ben Moore ("Bobby Purify" II)

James & Bobby Purify were an R&B singing duo, whose biggest hits were "I'm Your Puppet" in 1966, which reached number six in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and in a re-recorded version number 12 in the UK Singles Chart (in May 1976), and "Let Love Come Between Us" in 1967, which reached number 23 in the US. The original "Bobby Purify" (Robert Lee Dickey) was replaced by a second "Bobby Purify" (Ben Moore) in the 1970s.

Life and career[edit]

The vocal duo of James Lee Purify (May 12, 1944, Pensacola, Florida, – January 22, 2021, Pensacola) and his cousin Robert Lee Dickey (September 2, 1939, Tallahassee, Florida – December 29, 2011, Tallahassee) formed in 1965. Dickey had previously worked as a guitarist with the Dothan Sextet.[1] The duo were signed by Don Schroeder to Bell Records in 1966, with Dickey taking his cousin's surname as a stage name.[2] They had immediate success with "I'm Your Puppet", written by Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn and produced by Penn at the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.[3] The record, released in September 1966, spent 14 weeks on the US chart and sold an estimated one million copies.[3]

Although "I'm Your Puppet" was their biggest hit, they had several further successes on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B chart in the US in the late 1960s, including a revival of "Shake a Tail Feather", originally by The Five Du-Tones, and "Let Love Come Between Us".[2] Oliver's cover of the twosome's 1968 hit "I Can Remember" reached the top 25 of the Billboard Easy Listening Chart in the mid summer of 1970. The duo continued to record and tour together until 1971, when Dickey retired from the music business for health reasons and returned to Tallahassee, where he worked as a city maintenance supervisor as well as singing and playing guitar with his church and as a member of the Bethlehem Male Singers.[4]

James Purify then worked as a solo singer until 1974,[5] when Penn introduced him to Ben Moore (Benjamin Moore Jr., August 7, 1941, Atlanta, Georgia – May 12, 2022).[3][6] Moore had previously worked with Otis Redding and James Brown and as a member of Jimmy Tig and the Rounders, before forming half of the duo Ben and Spence, who recorded for Atlantic Records in the 1960s.[7] Moore adopted the stage name "Bobby Purify", and the duo toured together until the 1980s. They re-recorded "I'm Your Puppet", which became a number 12 hit in the UK in 1976, and an album, Purify Bros.[7]

Moore began recording as a solo singer for Mercury Records in 1977 and (as Bobby Purify) released an album, Purified, in 1979. He also continued to tour as half of the duo with James Purify. He was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1983, in the category of Best Soul Gospel Performance - Traditional, for the song "He Believes in Me".[8] In 1998, Moore went blind from severe glaucoma and dropped out of the music industry. With the encouragement of Ray Charles, however, he returned to performing and recording. Under the name Bobby Purify, he released an album, Better to Have It, produced by Dan Penn, in 2005. He later joined the gospel band The Blind Boys of Alabama.[6]

James Purify died of complications from COVID-19 in Pensacola, Florida, on January 22, 2021, aged 76.[9]

Ben Moore died on May 12, 2022, at the age of 80.[10]



Year Album Record label
1967 James & Bobby Purify Bell Records
1968 The Pure Sound of The Purifys - James & Bobby
1975 You & Me Together Forever Casablanca Records
1977 Purify Bros. Mercury Records


Year Single (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Chart positions Album
US Pop[11] US
UK[12] NZ[13]
1966 "I'm Your Puppet"
b/w "So Many Reasons"
6 5 - - James & Bobby Purify
1967 "Wish You Didn't Have to Go"
b/w "You Can't Keep a Good Man Down"
38 27 - -
"Shake a Tail Feather"
b/w "Goodness Gracious"
25 15 - - The Pure Sound of
The Purifys - James & Bobby
"I Take What I Want"
b/w "Sixteen Tons"
41 23 - -
"Let Love Come Between Us"
b/w "I Don't Want to Have to Wait"
23 18 51 -
1968 "Do Unto Me"
b/w "Everybody Needs Somebody"
73 38 - - Non-album tracks
"I Can Remember"
b/w "I Was Born to Lose Out"
51 42 - -
"Help Yourself (To All of My Lovin')"
b/w "Last Piece of Love"
94 31 - -
"Untie Me"
b/w "We're Finally Gonna Make It"
- 47 - -
1969 "Section C"
b/w "I Don't Know What It Is You Got"
- - - -
1974 "Do Your Thing"
b/w "Why Love"
- 30 - - You & Me Together Forever
1975 "You and Me Together Forever"
b/w "A Man Can't Be a Man Without a Woman"
- - - -
"All the Love I Got"
b/w "Why Love"
- - - -
1976 "I'm Your Puppet" (re-recording)
b/w "Lay Me Down Easy"
- - 12 20 Purify Bros.
"Morning Glory"
b/w "Turning Back the Pages"
- - 27 -
1977 "Get Closer"
b/w "What's Better Than Love"
- - - -
"Slow Dancin'"
b/w "Fire's Burning" (as Purify Bros.)
- - - - Non-album track


  1. ^ "Robert Dickey (1939 - 2011) - Find A Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b Bill Dahl. "James & Bobby Purify - Biography - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 210. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  4. ^ "Robert Dickey, half of the duo that sang '60s hit song 'I'm Your Puppet,' dies in Fla. At 72 - the Washington Post". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2012-01-05. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  5. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 361.
  6. ^ a b [1] Archived March 9, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b [2] Archived April 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "For information on the Grammy Awards 1983 and a complete list of nominees and winners for all categories, browse through the article". Awardsandshows.com. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  9. ^ Whitlock, Alanderia (January 23, 2021). "R&B 'I'm Your Puppet' legend dies from COVID-19 complications in Pensacola". WEAR-TV. Retrieved January 24, 2021.
  10. ^ Blind Boys of Alabama Singer Benjamin Moore, Jr. Dead at 80. Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 19, 2022.
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 570. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
  12. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 620. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
  13. ^ "The Official New Zealand Music Chart". THE OFFICIAL NZ MUSIC CHART. Retrieved 20 August 2017.

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