1955 – Born William Thomas
"Tommy" Emmanuel on the 31st of May
1959 - Age 4 he got his first
guitar at and was taught by his mother. He learned by ear, with
no formal instruction, and has never read music.
1961 - Age 6, he was already
working as a professional musician in the family band, variously
named The Emmanuel Quartet, The Midget Surfaries and The
Trailblazers. Tommy played rhythm guitar and his older brother
Phil played lead, along with their brother Chris on drums and
sister Virginia on slide guitar. The Emmanuel siblings earned
the family's sole income for several years.
1962 - Tommy heard Nashville
guitarist Chet Atkins' music for the first time and was riveted
by the complexity of Atkins' solo sound. He spent hours trying
to figure out the "fingerpicking" style and gobbled up each of
the American star's albums as they came out.
1966 - Shortly after his
father's death, the Emmanuel family toured with Buddy Williams,
until they were forced by the Australian child welfare
department to stop travelling and the children were then sent to
a regular school. During these years, Tommy was playing in The
Trailblazers on weekends. He also taught guitar and made
numerous television appearances in musical competitions.
Emmanuel's first brush with fame came when The Trailblazers won
two televised talent contests and were able to produce an album.
Leaving school and home in
his early teens, Tommy embraced big city life in Sydney
in order to pursue his career as a professional guitarist.
1970's - He was playing in
clubs all over the city and soon found himself in high demand as
a session player and sideman known for his versatility and
easy-going personality. Played on recordings for Air Supply, Men
at Work and dozens of other popular bands and artists, as well
as thousands of commercial 'jingles.' He became known as one of
the best modern guitarists in Australia.
Some of his most notable appearances were on the Air Supply hit
singles Lost in Love, All Out of Love, Every Woman in the World,
and Now and Forever.
1979 - Released “From Out Of
Nowhere” - with Pee Wee Clark
1980 - Made a trip to the
and finally met and got to play with, Chet Atkins, in Nashville.
From that magical moment forward, the Tennessee
master guitarist and producer took Tommy under his wing and
began introducing him to other guitar legends.
1985 - Joined one of the
decade's biggest Australian rock bands, Dragon, and recorded the
platinum-selling album “Dreams of Ordinary Men”.
1987 - Dragon toured with Tina
Turner on her 'Break Every Rule' tour. As a songwriter
(co-writing with 1960s Australian star Steve Kipner), his
compositions have been recorded by Olivia Newton-John, Al
Jarreau, and Sheena Easton.
1988 - Best Studio Musician,
Bi-Centennial Music Week Award (Australia)
1989 – 90 - Ambassador of
Music in Australia.
1990 - Released “Dare To Be
1991 - Released “Determination”.
Australian Performing Right Association (APRA) Songwriting Award
for 'Stevie's Blues' (Determination). ARIA Award Best Adult
Contemporary Album with “Determination”.
1991-94 - Best Guitarist -
Rolling Stone (Australia)
1992 - Best Adult
Contemporary album, Determination, Australian Record Industry
Association. Three Platinum Records for album sales in Australia,
and Asia of Up From Down Under, Dare to Be Different, and
1993 - Released “The Journey”.
ARIA Award Best Adult Contemporary Album with “The Journey”.
Released “The Journey Continues”.
1994 - Best Adult Contemporary
album, The Journey, Australian Record Industry Association
1995 - MO award for
Australian Performer of the Year. Paul Harris Fellow,
fundraising for the Rotary Club. Inducted into the Hands of
Fame. Released “Initiation” (Asian release),“Classical
Gas” - with the Australian Philharmonic Orchestra and“Terra Firma”
- with Phil Emmanuel. Inducted into the Hands of Fame.
1996 - Gold Record for
Classical Gas sales of 35,000 copies. Released “Can't Get
Enough” - with Larry Carlton, Chet Atkins and Robben Ford.
Released as “
Drive” in US
1997 - Released “The Day
Finger Pickers Took Over The World” - duets with Chet Atkins.
Grammy Nomination with Chet Atkins, Best Country Instrumental
Performance for 'SmokeyMountain
Lullabye,' The Day Fingerpickers Took over the World. Most Added
Artist on Smooth Jazz Radio, North America.
MO award for Australian Performer of the Year
1998 - Best Country
Instrumental Album, The Day Fingerpickers Took over the World
with Chet Atkins - Nashville
Music Awards. Released “Collaboration” - with Various Guests
1999 - In Nashville,
Tommy was honoured by his mentor, Chet Atkins with the title of
"Certified Guitar Player" for his contribution to fingerstyle
guitar, a rare distinction shared by only three other people in
the world (Jerry Reed, Steve Wariner and John Knowles).
2000 - Appearance with Phil
Emmanuel at the Closing Ceremonies of the Sydney
Olympic Games. Released “Only”.
2001 - Released “Greatest Hits”.
2004 - Released “Endless
2005 - Released “Live One”.
Album of the Year & Thumbpicker of the Year, National
Thumbpickers Hall of Fame. Induction into the National
Thumbpickers Hall Of Fame (Muhlenberg,
of the Year, 'Tall Fiddler,' Country Music Association of Australia
2006 - Grammy Nomination,
Best Country Instrumental Performance, 'Gameshow Rag'. Released
2007 - Golden Guitar for
Instrumental of the Year with “Gameshow Rag”.
2008 - Best Acoustic Guitarist
in Guitar Player Magazine's Reader's Choice Awards. Gold Medal -
Fingerstyle category, Acoustic Guitar Magazine's Player's Choice
Awards. Released “Center Stage”
of the Year, National Thumbpicker Hall of Fame (Muhlenberg,
Guitar Legend Award, Guitar Player Magazine
2010 - Released "Just Between
Frets" with Frank Vignola.
2010 - Awarded the Member of
the Order of Australia
for service to the musical entertainment industries as a
guitarist and to the community as a supporter of Kids Under
2011 - With brother Phil elevated to the Roll of Renown.
Undertook a reunion tour with his brother Phil.