Published Feb 12, 2020Willie Nelson's longtime drummer and close friend Paul English has died. While a cause of death has yet to be revealed, his publicist confirmed the news today to Rolling Stone. English was 87.
Nelson immortalized the drummer in the 1971 song "Me and Paul," though the drummer first joined the famed country singer in 1966. English was born 1932 in Vernon, TX, and played with Nelson up until his death, often sharing percussion duties with younger brother Billy English.
In addition to being Nelson's drummer, Paul English become the musician's de facto bodyguard, as well as had a deep friendship with Nelson. English was known for breaking up multiple fistfights while on the road with Nelson, as well as for carrying a pistol in his boot to fend off anyone giving them trouble.
English also adopted a persona of "The Devil," grooming some evil-looking facial hair, dressing all in black and even wearing a stain cape, which is now enshrined in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's "Outlaws & Armadillos: Country's Roaring '70s" exhibit.
In addition to Nelson writing "Me and Paul," he also wrote "Devil in a Sleepin' Bag" about English for 1973's Shotgun Willie album.
"If I hadn't gone with Willie, I would be in the penitentiary or dead," English — who was a former pimp and gang leader — told Rolling Stone in 2014. "I was running girls and playing music at the same time."
As of press tine, Nelson has yet to comment on English's passing.