Arts & Entertainment Musicians & Bands

Grammy Award Winning Guitarist Tommy Emmanuel

“One of the greatest guitar players on the planet”, “the greatest finger-picker in the world”, Chet Atkins“The greatest guitar player I’ve ever seen” – Eric Clapton

“An innovator of the guitar” – Todd Rundgren

Award winning guitar legendTommy Emmanuel is a man who oozes musicality!  He is known for his unique style of playing and his sensational stage performance. The only non-American inducted to the “Thumb Pickers Hall of Fame”, Tommy plays his guitar like a pianist, with all ten fingers. He even uses his guitar as a multi-percussion instrument.

In 2005 during his European tour, Deborah Collier interviewed Tommy under the animated persona ‘Madam Music’ for a music portal / record & fashion label she ran. At that time, he was playing around 300 concerts a year and had performed in front of millions at the 2000 Sydney Olympics closing ceremony. This is how the interview went:
1. Musical Style:

Is it possible that an accomplished musician with an established style like yourself could still be learning and developing?

“Oh absolutely, I’m more hungry for it than ever!! I always carry a guitar with me, and play at every opportunity, particularly at the airport. On my Australian tour I was playing more than eating or sleeping”, Tommy Emmanuel

What advice would you give to musicians’s about learning and developing their own style? 

Get songs to learn with a great melody, that inspire you. Seek out a good melody, such as Eric Clapton’s ‘Tears in Heaven’. You will accomplish more and more over time”

You are a master of both electric and acoustic guitars, but you started out on the electric. What made you decide to focus more on the acoustic guitar?

“Its economic, its challenging and the acoustic is my signature. It shows my own style.  I still do play the electric guitar…just like last night…I was jamming with an African troop until 4am, right after my gig in Düsseldorf, Tommy Emmanuel

2. Songwriting

What inspires your songwriting and does it happen quickly for you?

“Songwriting skills take years to develop. I’ve been developing my ear as well. The way I hear things has changed and the dynamic has changed. I never write cold ..Its usually an experience or an idea that I play around with over and over”.

Tommy explains how his song ‘ Endless Road’ was created. He came up with the theme many years ago and it wasn’t until later, with new events in his life, that he wrote some one and half minute pieces. “I later realised with the theme that all the pieces belonged together, and so was born Endless Road”

Tell us about your new album ‘The Mystery’ – what was the inspiration behind that?
Tommy explains that he wrote it whilst teaching at the Lewis & Clarke college
“The album was inspired mostly about Lewis and Clarke – who opened up the
American West and made friends with the Indians”
, “The song, Mystery was my way of expressing my wonder at the love of god, message of god and how love works in this world”.

Tommy shared his personal experience of his fiancee “how you can look at someone you love and wonder how this is possible, how you can be this happy”.

3. On Tour and Work with Upcoming Musicians

What is your favorite tour destination?

“I have many. The gig I played last night in Düsseldorf- I’d give the crowd a ten out of ten, and myself a two” , “I improvise a lot and I never play to a set list. I just feel what I feel and then just go with what I want to play”

Tommy has worked with young talented artists from around the globe. He has produced with Australian band Bluehouse and had taken young Welsh starlet Gareth Pearson, under his wing.

It must be very satisfying working with younger musicians?
“Yes, I love giving and helping other people’s careers. I’m so grateful for what others have done for for me. It inspires me to help to fulfill their dreams, using the facilities I’ve got to help young musicians around the world”, Tommy Emmanuel

Note from the Editor
Interviews are included here for the enjoyment of readers, and the public figures interviewed. Unless otherwise specified interviews are independent of any clients or partners, who are clearly indicated in that capacity, where appropriate.