Wally Safford, who danced in Prince’s Revolution and was the singer’s bodyguard, has died aged 63. No other details were given.
Safford, a native of Detroit, grew up in the Nation of Islam, where he received much of his training as a bodyguard. (His family was close to Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali.) Prior to working for Prince in the ’80s, Safford also provided security for bands such as the Commodores, Parliament-Funkadelic, Teddy Pendergrass, and Earth, Wind. & Fire.
While working for Prince, Safford usually had a hotel room adjacent to the singer so Prince could access the bodyguard at all times, sometimes waking him up in the middle of the night for stationery so he could write lyrics.
Safford also briefly performed as a dancer in Prince’s band. You can see it in Prince’s “Girls and Boys” video and the sign the time concert film, featuring the “Detroit Crawl” dance, which is named after Safford.
Prince also nodded to Safford in his unreleased song “Wally,” which he wrote right after breaking up with Susannah Melvoin, twin sister of Revolution’s Wendy Melvoin. Susan Rogers, who worked as a sound engineer for Prince in the 80s, recalled in later interviews what Prince said to Safford at the top of the track, which was recorded in 1986.”Wally, where did you get those glasses? Can I try them, because I’m going to a party tonight and I want to look so clean“, she remembered him saying, followed by “Yeah, my girl just left, so I’m gonna meet someone new.”
In 2019, Safford released a memoir chronicling her years with Prince, Wally, where did you get those glasses? My life through the lens of Parliament, Pendergrass and Prince.
“Everyone has a story,” Safford told Ultimate Prince shortly after the book’s release. “I wanted to talk about my journey in life. Prince was right at the end.”
Watch Wally Safford in Prince’s ‘Girls and Boys’ Music Video
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