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Willie Nelson Opens Up About Late Paul English Saving His Life

todaySeptember 20, 2022 2

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Looking back with love. Willie Nelson is reflecting on his long, wild friendship with his late best friend and drummer, Paul English.

The country music icon recently spoke with ET’s Kevin Frazier and shared stories about his experiences with English while first making it big and then touring the country over the past five decades.

“He was my best friend for many, many years,” said Nelson, who chronicled their friendship in his new book, Me and Paul: Untold Tales of a Fabled Friendship.We went up and down the road a long time and had a lot of fun together. He was my best friend.”

English first joined Nelson’s band in 1966 and served as both the band’s drummer, as well as a de facto bodyguard and muscle when needed. English looked after Nelson and his bandmates and formed an unbreakable bond that remained until his final days.

English performed with the band all the way until February 2020, when he died at the age of 87. Despite declining health, Nelson made sure to keep English

“He wasn’t having no big time, and we knew it,” Nelson said of English’s health struggles. “We knew it was just a matter of time before he was going to have to leave. We tried to keep him out there as long as he could.”

Nelson has called English his “angel” and credited him with saving his life.

“We grew up in a pretty rough neighborhood,” Nelson said, referring to his early music days in Fort Worth, Texas, where English and Nelson found themselves in “a lot of bar fights and a lot of stuff going on.”

“He had my back all the time, and he was always there,” Nelson shared.

The 89-year-old music legend is still touring to this day, with performances lined up throughout the rest of the year, and he seems to have no real intention of stopping.

“It’s not too much unlike being on the road [when I was younger]. You have the same problems every night. You try to get there in time to play, and you hope you’re in good enough shape to do an hour, and it’s been that way forever,” Nelson shared. ” I say the same thing after every tour, ‘I’m quit.’ But you know, after a while I need to go back.”

“I enjoy playing it. I think it’s good for me to sing, and it’s the best exercise that I can give myself for an hour to get out there, see the audience and have their feedback, and we talk and we communicate,” he added. “I just love performing.”

Me and Paul: Untold Tales of a Fabled Friendship is available now.

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