“Incredible” – that’s how the Emmanuel brothers, who grew up in Parkes, are feeling after hearing they are the 2018 Elvis Wall of Fame inductees.
“I’m amazed that so many people in Parkes remember us!” Phil Emmanuel said.
The brothers – along with the rest of their family – arrived and settled in Parkes as a family band in April 1967, following the passing of their father Hugh Emmanuel in 1966.
They were invited on tour with the Singing Jackaroo Buddy Williams between January and April 1967, where the last show was held in Peak Hill.
The family discovered their friends from north Queensland had moved to Parkes, living in Brolgan Road and they visited them.
Soon the family settled in Parkes, living at Spicer Caravan Park for a few months before taking up residency at 2A Forbes Road for a number of years.
The guitar extraordinaires were announced as this year’s inductees at the official launch of the festival in September at Hotel Gracelands.
“I think it’s bloody fantastic,” Phil said.
“When things like this happen I’m ultra surprised,” Tommy added.
The pair feel honoured to be on the wall alongside 22 other rock and roll greats, many of whom they’ve worked with and for.
Phil said he’s done recording sessions with the 1996 inductee Col Joy, he’s backed Little Pattie (1997 inductee), he was lead guitarist in Judy Stone’s (2000 inductee) band, he worked for Lucky Starr (2006 inductee) and has been working with 2016 inductee Robie Porter (‘Rob E.G.’) for the last six months.
Robie was also one of the brothers’ heroes growing up.
The brothers have very fond memories of growing up in Parkes.
“The local area really supported us and nurtured us,” Tommy said.
He spoke of a particular moment that took the pair to stardom on TV as teenagers – winning the viewers section in Showcase 70 on Channel 9.
The public had to vote for their favourite performers.
“We really appreciate how all of Parkes got behind us,” Tommy said.
“It wasn’t like voting is done today where you just call up...[our supporters] went the extra mile for us and we won the final.
“It makes sense (being inducted) since I was here all of those years.
“I’ve seen how much Parkes has changed with the times and grown, then there are other buildings that are exactly the same.
“Parkes High School has grown but a lot of it is still the same, I can see the music room I played in and it still has the same railing and same door.”
Tommy remembers the days of driving to the Parkes Leagues Club at 14 or 15 years old at 2am to pick up his mother who worked in the restaurant.
He was 16 years old when he moved away from Parkes. One of his many jobs was a musical director.
“I worked in Parkes at J Stanfield’s Chrysler dealer on the corner of Bushman and Clarinda streets, I packed shelves in Woolworths, I had a lawn mower business and I had heaps of customers,” Tommy said.
“And then I worked with the family band the Trailblazers.”
Among Phil’s favourite memories was when he used to go rabbit, kangaroo and fox shooting.
He also remembers his first days at Parkes High School, starting in second form (Year 8) upon moving to town.
“I didn’t like it at first because I didn’t like going to school,” he laughed.
“I had always done school by correspondence.
“But years three and four (Year 9 and 10) were just amazing, I had the best time and I made so many friends.
“I really appreciated school.”
And Phil said it took him a while to get used to Parkes’ climate.
“It was so hot here in summer and so bloody cold in winter,” he laughed.
The Bluebird Cafe in Clarinda Street was his hangout and was a motor mechanic apprentice until the passing of his boss Mick Shanks.
While he searched for another apprenticeship in Parkes, he travelled to Sydney to play in gigs and it wasn’t long until he received a call with a job offer.
He moved to Sydney when he was 18 or 19 and played at the Texas Tavern in Kings Cross, mainly entertaining troops who were on R&R from Vietnam.
“I was also in a local band from Peak Hill, we were a heavy rock band called the Happy Valley Hounds,” Phil said.
While the pair have never attended an Elvis Festival in its entirety, Tommy has caught the tail-end of a festival one year.
“It’s a great idea, It’s a perfect way to get a community involved,” Tommy said.
“Parkes has proven how to get the state government’s support and that’s not easy to do.”
2018 will be Phil’s first Elvis Festival.
He said he’s always wanted to host his own show at the festival with a mate in Townsville who had been to the event before.
“I always thought I should get down there one day,” Phil said.
“Because I play James Burton (American rock and roll guitar legend) in Elvis songs.
“I heard [the Elvis Festival] was big but I didn’t think it was as big as it was.”
Phil said he was really looking forward to his show he’ll be hosting on Friday at 2pm in the Little Theatre, calling it the Guitars of the Era.
“I got the idea from your Cars of the Era that Parkes has at the festival,” he said.
“There’s going to be so many people singing Elvis songs but it’s more than just Elvis, it’s the music of that time.
“At the same time when Elvis was at his peak, it’s the music, the clothing, it’s everything out of that era.
“I’d love to come and do that every year.”
Phil will also be performing with Robie Porter in the Wall of Famers show at 4pm at the Parkes Services Club on Wednesday to honour the Emmanuel brothers, following the Elvis Wall of Fame induction at Kelly Reserve at 2pm.
Tommy will unfortunately miss Wednesday’s induction as he will be in the United States on tour.