Asthma attack claims the life of virtuoso guitarist Phil Emmanuel, 65

Phil Emmanuel (right) with brother Tommy in 2011.

Phil Emmanuel (right) with brother Tommy in 2011. Photo: AAP/Tracey Nearmy

One of Australia’s most renowned guitarists, Phil Emmanuel, has died at the age of 65.

The musician died on Thursday evening in the NSW town of Parkes after a sudden asthma attack, according to reports.

“On behalf of the family, it is with great sadness that I announce the passing of our much loved brother, Philip Ernest Emmanuel,” his brother Darcy told Fairfax Media.

“We are all devastated.”

Emmanuel began his music career at a young age and by the time he was nine he was touring with his family as The Emmanuel Quartet, among other outfits.

For six years, the siblings travelled Australia before his first “brush with fame” came when one of their bands, The Trailblazers, won a televised talent contest and subsequently produced an album.

Emmanuel entertained American servicemen when he later performed in Kings Cross hotels, developing a love for country music, before becoming known as one of Australia’s finest musicians.

His biography lists his influences as Hank B Marvin and The Shadows, the Ventures and the Beatles. He was widely regarded for his technical skills and versatility, and toured Australia extensively with his guitarist brother Tommy as “The Emmanuel Brothers”.

Millions watched his performance at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics alongside INXS, Vanessa Amorosi, Savage Garden and Midnight Oil.

Emmanuel performed with countless Australian and international music superstars, including Slim Dusty, Dolly Parton, Lee Kernaghan, Willie Nelson, John Farnham, Ian Moss and Jimmy Barnes.

“One of the great guitar players,” Barnes tweeted on Friday. “You will be sadly missed.”

Emmanuel was staying in Parkes with brother Darcy before he died and reportedly had gigs planned at the Cootamundra Hotel and Star Hotel.

Darcy Emmanuel said the death came after the loss of their sister Virginia on April 14 at the age of 69.

He said Virginia and Phil were “virtually joined at the hip” and doubted either could have lived without the other.


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