Darrell Royal and Randy Willis

My friend Coach Royal died four years ago today.
For many years I would have a pickin’ party at my home honoring Coach. He never missed one.
This is a photo taken at the last one, on March 13, 2011, at my Austin home. Pictured with me is: Rattlesnake Annie, Lenny Vaughan (Stevie Ray Vaughan’s widow), Coach Royal, and Freddy Powers (longtime songwriting partner of Merle Haggard).
He was famous for inspirational Royalisms like, “Dance with the one that brung ya,” “When you get into the end zone, act like you’ve been there before,and “You’ve got to think lucky. If you fall into a mud hole, check your back pocket you might have caught a fish.”  My favorite was:  “The mark of a man is how he treats people who can never do anything for him.”

He had a great sense of humor, too.  Once when we were shooting pool, after playing golf all day (at Bill McDavid’s home on Willie Nelson’s Cut-N-Putt Golf Course) the phone rang. Freddy Powers asked me to answer it because I was the closest to the phone.  Coach said, “Randy, if that’s Edith tell her I’ll come home when I’m damn good and ready.” And before I could get the phone to my ear he added, “and tell her I’m damn good and ready right now.”

On October 12, 2012 (a few weeks before Coach’s death) Coach Royal recited “The Eyes of Texas” while the Kyle Family sang back up. Less than a month later The Kyle Sisters, would sing “The Old Rugged Cross” at his funeral at Coach’s request. He had also asked them to change the lyrics when they sang it, tweaking the line “So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down” to “till my burdens at last I lay down.” He added, my trophies don’t mean much to me now.”  Remarkably, his request was made with Alzheimer’s.  Coach died on November 7, 2012, due to complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

Aaron Eckhart played Coach in the movie “My All American.” 

photo: Randy Willis, Rattlesnake Annie, Lenny Vaughan (Stevie Ray Vaughan’s widow), Coach Darrell K Royal, and Freddy Powers. Pickin’ Party at Randy Willis’s Austin home on March 13, 2011.
~ Randy Willis
    Hookem Horns

Amazon author’s page:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s