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One of Australia’s greatest guitar players Phil Emmanuel, brother of Tommy has died. On the night of Thursday May 24th while visiting his brother Darcy in Parkes, NSW, Phil suffered from a massive asthma attack which led to his death. “On behalf of the family, it is with great sadness that I announce the passing of our much loved brother, Philip Ernest Emmanuel,” Darcy informed the press.

Tributes from other Australian musicians have begun to circulate on social media.

“Vale the great Phil Emmanuel … the Wiz .. will be sadly missed by all of us for his great sense of humor and astonishing guitar skills … our love to all the family at this time.” said bass Rob Little, who had played with both Phil and Tommy Emmanuel

“I’m deeply saddened to learn of Phil Emmanuel’s passing. Both Phil and Tommy were always very supportive of me as an up and comer. I jammed with Phil on many occasions, but was never loud enough, we ate pizza together and exchanged jokes. I’ll alway remember Phil as a lovable rogue and a bitchin’ lizard lovin’ guitar player. VALE Phil Emmanuel,” said Jimi Hocking

“To a 14 year old boy, as I was, sitting at the Maton Guitars stand at the Melbourne Guitar Show picking out the chords to “Parisienne Walkways” and to have Phil Emmanuel casually stroll up beside me, pick up a guitar and start playing the melody, meant the absolute world… It made me think, if HE thought I was ok to play with, I might just be ok at this.. Thank You Phil xx Play on” – Shannon Bourne

The most heartbreaking tribute of course was from Phil’s brother Tommy, who posted the following touching message to Facebook:
“I won’t be able to look into those green eyes again or hear that wicked laugh. He taught me so much right from the start,, showed me how to recognize song keys, chords, harmonies, how to get a sound that worked, how to stay out of the way on stage and when to step forward when I had something to say, musically or otherwise. We spent so many years traveling, playing shows, setting up, packing up, sleeping in little cheap motels and pubs, all because we loved to entertain people and have fun. We shared everything, and he taught me about kindness, giving, listening, how to love people as they are.
He was a walking contradiction, and a dreamer, but mostly, a loving kind, concerned brother… to be continued…. xx TE”

In 1996 as part of International Guitar Month activities, Australian Musician presented an Aussie Guitar Greats Honour Roll, written by guitarist Geoff Wright, who has toured internationally and played alongside JJ Cale. In the feature, Geoff wrote this of Phil:

“If brother Tommy plays it sweet, Phil plays it from the street. A Hank B Marvin kind of guy at age ten, Phil’s playing has so much fire and his chops on electric are pretty well as good as you’ll get! The band Goldrush produced some great albums featuring Phil out front (Tommy played drums) and man, did he burn! His shows with Tommy illustrate Phil’s total command of his instrument. Phil is a true character and well travelled gentleman and his playing exemplifies the man himself – humour heart and fire.”

Phil’s musical roots stemmed back to the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, his influences include guitar great Hank B Marvin and The Shadows, the Ventures and the Beatles. Phil then turned his attention to the music of Al Di Meola, Carlos Santana, Steve Morse and Gary Moore and the much admired Jeff Beck. But It is Hank that Phil attributes the path he chose to take on his musical journey. Phil has said if it wasn’t for “Hank B. Marvin and The Shadows” I wouldn’t be the electric guitar player I am today. “When I first heard Hank play in 1959 I was fascinated and hooked by his sound and use of echo. To this day he is still my favourite guitarist”
Phil’s versatility is well known and acknowledged, by both musicians and fans alike, which becomes obvious from the receptions he would receive at all his shows, along with all the accolades from the musicians he has performed alongside, from Jazz – James Morrison, Don Burrows to Big-Band – Ed Wilson, the Royal Military College Band, to Country – Slim Dusty, Reg Lindsay, Lee Kernaghan, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson Tammy Wynette, to Rock and Blues Dire Straits, The Shadows, Midnight Oil, Jimmy Barnes, Roy Buchanan, Don Walker, John Farnham and Ian Moss, to name a few.

A highlight for Phil came in the year 2000 when he performed to a worldwide audience of 4.5 billion at the Closing Ceremony of the Sydney Olympics with Brother Tommy, INXS, Vanessa Amorosi, Savage Garden and Midnight Oil. It gave Australia’s “forgotten son” a chance to shine and also to receive the recognition that he undeniably deserved.

Phil is survived by his wife Amanda and his children Jessie Maree, Jamie Lee, Georgia Dee and Marshall Travis.

RIP Phil Emmanuel and thank you for the music



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