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Tommy EMMANUEL 2011

Tommy & Phil Emmanuel

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 United States 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.

1986 – 88 - Australia's Best Guitarist - Juke Magazine (Australia).

1987 - Released “Up From Down Under”

1988 - Best Studio Musician, Bi-Centennial Music Week Award (Australia) 

1989 – 90 - Ambassador of Music in Australia.

1990 - Released “Dare To Be Different”

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, New Zealand and Asia of Up From Down Under, Dare to Be Different, and Determination.

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 “Midnight 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 'Smokey Mountain 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 Road” 

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, KY).  Instrumental of the Year, 'Tall Fiddler,' Country Music Association of Australia

2006 - Grammy Nomination, Best Country Instrumental Performance, 'Gameshow Rag'. Released “The Mystery” 

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”

2009  -  Thumbpicker of the Year, National Thumbpicker Hall of Fame (Muhlenberg, KY). 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 Care.

2011 - With brother Phil elevated to the Roll of Renown. Undertook a reunion tour with his brother Phil.