An autobiography of Willie Nelson and Paul English, Me and Paul: Untold Stories of a Fabled Friendship, comes out Sept. 20 from Harper Horizon.
The book was co-written with our neighborhood’s own David Ritz.
Ritz, who now lives in California, went to Thomas Jefferson High School. A biographer, ghostwriter, journalist and songwriter, he’s probably the most prolific author of books to hail from Dallas. In 1974, he published a magazine article about the history of Jews in Dallas. And he co-wrote “Sexual Healing” with Marvin Gaye.
Paul English, known as Willie Nelson’s badass bag man, drummer and best friend, was also a rock-star dad whose kids went to private schools in our neighborhood.
English was a rough-and-rowdy honky-tonker who looked up to Fort Worth gangsters as a kid. And he was a sweet grandpa who played chess, did sudoku puzzles and showed up for school events.
““We were so shocked when he died, and I think what shocked us the most was that something could actually kill him. Because you think he just couldn’t end.” his widow, Janie English, told the Advocate last year.
This isn’t Ritz’s first book about Willie Nelson. He ghostwrote Willie’s 2015 autobiography It’s a Long Story: My Life, as well as the 2016 book based on the song “Pretty Paper.” And he co-authored Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band, in 2020.
Mickey Raphael, the harmonica player who also went to Thomas Jefferson, is the last remaining old-school member of The Family band, besides Willie himself.
English died of pneumonia at age 87 in 2020. Then Bobbie Nelson, Willie’s sister, band leader and best friend, died in March at age 91. Guitarist Jody Payne died in 2013.
A friend of Willie told me last year that they thought 89-year-old Willie would stop when either he died or Bobbie died, whichever came first. Because “Little Sister” Bobbie Nelson was the heart of it all, the friend said.
But New York Times Magazine, in a 10-page spread this past Sunday, reports that the patron saint of Texas troubadours intends to stay on the road until it ends.