The outpouring of emotion on Facebook yesterday for Phil Emmanuel was immeasurable. It was a shock, but it was also deeper than that. Phil was one of our finest guitarists. With his brother, Tommy, the duo became just about the most famous musical brothers in Australia, and certainly amongst the most talented. They let their guitars do the work. Individually, Phil and Tommy did some great stuff too.
I was very fortunate to see Phil on many occasions, not just at Tamworth but in Sydney. I saw Phil and Tommy support America at the Sydney Entertainment Centre back in the 80’s. It was an amazing gig. There were people who strangely, hadn’t heard of Phil and Tommy before, and they went away thinking that they were just as great as the headliners, who were awesome too.
One of my favourite memories of Phil was at a 3 hour gig that he did virtually by himself at Tamworth Showground in the early 2000’s. I took my ‘nephew’ Elliott, who was learning the guitar to it. It was the most amazing gig. In a stage that had more hay bales on it than musicians, Phil took us on a very big journey through his guitar playing, featuring all styles of music. Elliott was quite young then and he was just as enthralled as I was.
For someone who has been struggling to learn stringed instruments for years – a combination of stubby fingers, not sure whether to play left or right handed and just total frustration – I dips me lid to this magnificent guitarist, who not only set fire to a guitar with his fast fingers and his slow hands, but he was a genuinely good bloke who was loved my many.
My heart goes out to his brothers and sister and to his wife and kids. He lost his other sister not long ago. It must be a very hard time for the family. Ironically, Elliott’s mother, my best friend of 44 years, also suffers from Asthma. If anyone can find a cure for it or do anything to alleviate their suffering, please help.
The photos are of Phil, Phil and Tommy and Phil and Stuie French, another fine guitarist. We are very lucky in this country to produce such fine musicians. Tommy may have had more world wide acclaim but Phil never sought it. He was just an ordinary person with an extraordinary gift and it came wrapped in a big bow.
Thank you for the music Phil. We will play it forever.