Emmanuel family celebrates 50 years of being in Parkes

2017 marks a very special year for the renowned Emmanuel family, who arrived and settled in Parkes as a family band in April 1967.

50 years on, the only remaining Emmanuel family member still living in Parkes, youngest brother Darcy Emmanuel, wanted to recognise and celebrate the occasion.

With the support of the Parkes Historical Society and the Henry Parkes Museum, Darcy has spent more than six months gathering family memorabilia and perfecting a special display at the museum.

The display includes photos, posters, family instruments, awards and even Tommy Emmanuel’s model Corgi Car collection, which has proven very popular.

While April was the family’s official anniversary, the golden milestone will be celebrated – alongside a number of other significant milestones in town – at the Parkes Historical Society’s Heritage Event on Saturday at the museum (see link below).

Here’s some of the history behind the family:

The Emmanuels left Gunnedah on August 11, 1962 and travelled up the east coast of Australia, down to Victoria, South Australia and onto Western Australia, touring as a family band.

At the time the band was called the Emmanuel Quartet, which gave many the impression they were a classical band which they weren’t.

So they changed their name to the Midget Surfaries, playing modern pop music, rock and roll and surf music.

The passing of their father Hugh Emmanuel on April 23, 1966, the band stopped touring for some months until they joined Buddy Williams and his family band, following the show circuit.

Their last show was at Peak Hill.

The Buddy Williams family went to Sydney to make a record and the Emmanuel family settled in Parkes.

The family travelled around in two Holden FC station wagons at the time.

Virginia, the eldest sister, was given a lap steel guitar called a Moody in 1960-61 when she was 12 years old and the family was in Gunnedah.

She travelled to Tamworth once a week for lessons.

Chris, the eldest brother, was the drummer.

He retired in 1970, which saw Paul Curruthers join the band.

Philip was lead guitarist and Tommy was rhythm guitarist.

Phil and Tommy used to captivate audiences by showing off their skills – one particular show stopper involved the pair playing the one guitar at the same time, as was captured in a family photo when Phil was about 14 years old and Tommy was 11.

Phil played the lead guitar on one end and Tommy played rhythm on the other end.

“It was a trick they used to do, the crowds loved it,” Darcy said.

“They still do it today.

“Phil is the only one who can play his guitar behind his head.”

Virginia didn’t move to Parkes when the family settled in town, instead she travelled back to Gunnedah where Darcy said she was married.

The family band was then called the Trailblazers when they arrived in Parkes.

The band also went onto win Showcase 70 on Channel 9.

Head to the Henry Parkes Museum this Saturday to catch all the action of the Heritage Event.

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