Robert Dickey, ‘I’m Your Puppet’ Singer, Dies at 72


Published: January 5, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Robert Dickey, a guitarist and singer who was half of the duo that recorded the hit song “I’m Your Puppet,” died here on Dec. 29. He was 72.

His death was confirmed by a Tallahassee funeral home. No cause was given.

Mr. Dickey, born in Tallahassee in 1939, began his musical career in the ’60s and spent time touring with Otis Redding and other singers. He eventually teamed with his cousin James Purify to form the soul duo James and Bobby Purify.

The two had their biggest hit in the fall of 1966 when “I’m Your Puppet” reached the pop Top 10. They went on to have three other Top 40 singles in 1967.

Mr. Dickey told The Tallahassee Democrat in 2000, when he was honored as part of an exhibition on Florida rock ’n’ roll at the Museum of Florida History, that he never liked “I’m Your Puppet,” one of many hits written by the team of Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham.

“I hated it,” he said of the song, which he noted had originally been intended as a B-side. Recalling the grueling recording session that produced “I’m Your Puppet,” he explained, “I sang it for 23 hours straight; that’s why I hate it.”

Mr. Dickey abandoned his music career in 1972, and was replaced in the duo by Ben Moore, who became the new “Bobby Purify.” Mr. Dickey returned to Tallahassee, where he became a city maintenance supervisor. But he continued to sing and play guitar with his church and as a member of the Bethlehem Male Singers.

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