General: Aussie guitarist says Idol is bonza

Submitted by BIMI on 20 September, 2006 - 11:37am

Australian guitar ace Tommy Emmanuel has waded into the debate over the value of NZ Idol, saying it can spawn amazing talent as well as lazy stars.

Emmanuel, a graduate of a television talent show, returns to New Zealand next month with three decades of touring and commercial success under his guitar strap.

His band The Trailblazers won Showcase '70s, providing the platform from which he built an international career and earned hundreds of thousands of fans.

"It was a great springboard for me and, on occasion, the TV talent quest can discover some really great talent," Emmanuel said.

Not all the pop elite share his view on the televised talent quest, now in its third season.

Kiwi pop icons Boh Runga, Graham Brazier, Neil Finn and Dave Dobbyn recently slammed the format.

Runga said she would rather lick the inside of a toilet bowl than perform on Idol.

Emmanuel pointed to United States Idol winners, as two who had flourished.

"Take Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson. What a fabulous career Kelly is having and she is great. She struck it good in that TV format.

"I don't watch Idol myself but that sort of show teaches you a lot. Like `you've got this chance so get out there and make the most of it. Here's your moment what are you going to do?'

"I just don't want the younger generation to think that they don't need experience. That they can get on TV and they'll be a star. That doesn't last.

"You've got to have something good to fall back on and that is experience, and knowledge, skill and talent."

Emmanuel, who will play six shows in New Zealand in October, said his main goal was to give people good entertainment.

His long career is chequered with memorable Kiwi moments and friends.

He counts Dragon's Kiwi brothers Todd and the late Marc Hunter and diminutive singer-songwriter Sharon O'Neill among his peers and greatest influences.

"I joined Dragon at a really good time as they'd had such a great line-up," he said.

"The original guitar player Robert Taylor was a friend of mine and he wanted to leave and the band wanted me to join.

"At the time, I was playing with Sharon's band and I was producing a record for her.

"About a year later I joined Dragon. We had a great time. I had always enjoyed Dragon songs and I really enjoyed working with Todd. He became a real close friend and still is."

New Zealand was one of the first territories Emmanuel enjoyed commercial success as a solo touring artist , so he tried to tour regularly. This time he will do six venues in six days.

He began playing guitar at age four, learning by ear without any formal instruction. By six, he was working as a professional musician.

Soon after his father's death in 1966, the Emmanuel family was approached by country music star Buddy Williams, who took them on the road.

That stopped when they were forced by the Australian child welfare department to stop travelling, and the Emmanuel children were sent to a regular school.

During those years, Tommy played in The Trailblazers. His first brush with fame came when the band won two televised talent contests and produced an EP.

He and his siblings worked hard to create the family's sole income for several years.

In his early teens Emmanuel left home to pursue a professional career as a guitarist and found himself in high demand as a session player .

He recorded with Air Supply, Tiny Tim and Roberta Flack.

What he yearns for most on his trip to New Zealand, aside from wooing his fans, is a hokey pokey ice cream.



Who? :D

Tommy is pretty good, his

Tommy is pretty good, his brother is actually even better than him - but I guess that shows what some exposure on TV can do for your career!

I miss that talent show they used to have on TV 1. It wasn't just singers - their were guitar players, dancers ... everything. It was really cool.

Tommy makes my heart soar

Tommy makes my heart soar when he strums those strings *hearts*

Well I didn't know that he got his break thru a TV show - great!

Saw him a lot on TV when we lived in Ozzieland :)

Several years ago *cough* - there were many different talent shows on TV here - and HEAPS of young artists became household names and got that springboard happening into their musical careers - and many are still doing so.  Anyway I endorse Tommy's words and say take every opportunity that comes your way 8)

PS In the corresponding poll

PS In the corresponding poll stuff have with this story, Matt is currently leading the way at 31.8% to win the competition ;)

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