Tommy Emmanuel c.g.p.



VJ King Jr | Nine Network- This Is Your Life | Logo

VJ King Jr | Tommy Emmanuel




William Thomas Emmanuel



VJ King Jr | "Tommy Emmanuel - This Is Your Life" | Jupiters 16 February 2004




Saturday 24 January 2004


Andrew Rodgers - Producer for the Nine Network's This Is Your Life - telephones HeartBeat  Entertainment to enquire about the availability of VJ King Jr on 15 February 2004... and none other than Tommy Emmanuel is to be the This Is Your Life target.


February 15 is relevant for two reasons - firstly, it is the final Australian concert for 2004 prior to Tommy Emmanuel flying out for New Zealand and the USA; and, secondly, it is also the final concert in the Emmanuel Brothers 45th Anniversary Tour that began on January 24th at Tamworth, New South Wales.


It had been 45 years since these two brothers - Phil Emmanuel and Tommy Emmanuel - stepped on stage to register their first professional performance together.  Consequently, in addition to it being personal milestone for both of them, this date - 15 February 2004 - marked the end of an historical event in Australian Music History's calendar.


Different styles... different approaches... meant different paths for the Brothers Emmanuel.  Phil Emmanuel chose to make Australia his home base - whereas Tommy Emmanuel saw his base, and future, as being overseas.  While both have, undeniably, been outstanding ambassadors for instrumental music, for Australia, and the Australian Music industry, it was Tommy who ultimately captured world attention, and strutted the world's stages.


Few would deny the claim made by his peers - that in Tommy Emmanuel you have one of history's all-time greatest guitarists.


For example, the legendary Chet Atkins (1924-2001) who bestowed upon Tommy the honorary C.G.P. (Certified Guitar Picker) title not long before his death in 2001, once remarked that Tommy was:

               "One of the greatest players on the planet.


Another C.G.P. recipient, Jerry Reed, himself an institution as an instrumental guitarist said, with tongue firmly in cheek so as to make clear his point:

               "Iím gonna steal all his guitars, the kidís entirely  too good."





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"But, why VJ King Jr ?!"


For years, Tommy Emmanuel has made a point of reaching down to help young players up the mountain.  Nathan Cavaleri was one such artist known to Australian audiences.  In more recent times, VJ King Jr became the beneficiary of Tommy's generosity and praise.


The Nine Network's show producers chose to invite these two highly acclaimed young guitarists - Nathan and VJ - because their lives, and careers, more so than others, it seemed, have been positively impacted by Tommy's sensitive, caring nature. 


In addition to being made aware of Tommy's contributions to advancing VJ King Jr's career as a musician, it was explained that VJ's confident appearance with Tommy Emmanuel in April 2003 on the nationally televised Mornings With Kerri-Anne show, along with the story behind their coming together, that particularly impressed This Is Your Life producer, Andrew Rodgers, prompting his invitation to VJ to be present to honour Tommy Emmanuel on this special occasion.


There is no shadow of a doubt that any one of a hundred other young kids might have stood where VJ stood on February 15... and in all respects he and Nathan were really there as Ambassadors of Gratitude representing the Kingdom of All Young Musicians.


The Tommy Emmanuel/VJ King Jr story is an interesting one - however, with the focus being on Tommy Emmanuel, here is not the place to elaborate.  Suffice it to say, those interested in reading the story are encouraged to visit, at some later time, any (or all) of four following pages on this website, namely, the April 2003 Media Release, the Never Give Up story, Mornings With Kerri-Anne Kennerley (Channel 9), and Yallah Woolshed.


And, so it was that VJ departs Sydney at 0935 on Qantas QF0832 arriving at the Gold Coast airport at 0955 (local time).


It is VJ's 1st plane trip and a measure of anxiety mask his excitement.  Questions about planes, safety, terrorists, sky marshals, Qantas Airlines' safety record, and the like, are all up for discussion during the flight. 





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Sunday 15 February 2004


The Calm Before The Storm


The luxurious Gold Coast resort and entertainment centre, Jupiters Casino, is to provide the backdrop for 'springing Tommy' - and it would come at the end of his (and Phil's) evening concert.


This Is Your Life cast and crew - many of whom had been flown in from sundry points of the compass - set up camp early on Sunday morning, 15 February 2004, inside the nearby Grand Mercure Hotel.  Having occupied Jupiters Theatre for rehearsals during the morning and early afternoon of the 15th, there is suddenly tension in the Green Room as the impending arrival of the Emmanuel Brothers is announced.


Having to arrange a surprise birthday party, with all its attendant information 'leakage' risks, is hard enough .... the mind boggles at the logistics involved in pulling off this larger-scale 'sting', while maintaining the element of surprise.


Mike Munro, This Is Your Life Show Host, and the Nine Network's show guests beat a hurried retreat to the safety and comfort of their respective hotel rooms, just minutes prior to the arrival of the Emmanuel Brothers road train.  The roadies - together for 22 days and nights traversing the Australian continent - jump into action one last time ready to offload their cargo of boxes, merchandise, equipment and sundry tools of trade as they drive into Jupiters' rear loading dock.


Setting up the stage, plus the mandatory important sound, lighting and equipment checks, will run the clock to around 6:00pm, at which time Tommy and Phil will sit together for a light meal, take a few deep breaths and enjoy the calm that precedes the 60 minute countdown for this final 45th Anniversary Concert.  As the adrenalin begins to pump in the minutes before curtain call, the general mood is that tonight will be one big finale... but, it is also one that promises to be bigger than even Tommy Emmanuel might have expected!  Tommy shadow boxes to make sure the vibes are right, and Phil takes a sip or two of Jack Daniels.  High fives and both of these Australian guitar legends stand in the wings, ready.


Phil Emmanuel tries hard to wipe the cheeky grin from his face - he's in on the apres-show deal, and chuckling inside.  Yes, The Wiz is pretty happy - he doesn't get too many  opportunities to sting Tommy... but he has difficulty keeping a straight face.  Tommy - "What are you grinning at?"   Phil - "Nuffin'!" Tommy is unconvinced... the conversation ends abruptly with the announcement that it's now Showtime!


Coincident with the afternoon flurry of pre-concert activity at Jupiters Theatre, is a free-period for Mercure's Channel 9 guests - all of whom take the opportunity to mix and chat with one another, exchange usual pleasantries, partake of sundry refreshments, sleep, or whatever.  For them it's time to relish the calm before this evening's wonderful 'storm'.


It is 8:00pm - around the same time that Phil and Tommy Emmanuel are taking centre stage to begin the final concert of this, their 45th Anniversary Tour 2004.


Carefully following instructions delivered earlier by Nine's delightful hostesses, Heidi Sutherland and Sarah Evans, guests begin heading for the monorail and the short journey to Jupiters.


Hairdo and Makeup

It is a 2-minute ride that shuttles the cast of guests from the tight-lipped secrecy of Le Grande Mercure to the narrow backstage burrows that lead, eventually, to the Green Room. Further along the corridor is the the Make-up Room, already busy with artists rendering human visages suitable for the glare of television lights soon to come. Makeup calls continue and, one by one, guests are calmly plucked from their Green Room conversations and sipping of drink, returning several minutes later suitably 'made up'.


Green Room

The ageing, but ever handsome and charming Col Joye arrives. Unable to make the afternoon rehearsal, he is anxious to tune his guitar and warm up the fingers. He and Troy Cassar-Daley drift into the silence of the nearby production room to ensure everything is 'concert pitch'.  VJ King Jr is uneasy after discovering that his tuner is malfunctioning.  He is quickly ushered to Cassar-Daley's side by the cool Mr Fix-it, Production Manager, Simon Ritchie.  Anxiety is abated and calm is restored.


It is Intermission.  Dee LeBlang - Phil's manager - arrives in response to Phil's call to seek him out.  The ever vigilant Jupiters security is en garde, and making life very miserable for Miss Dee.  Parked at the foot of an inner sanctum stair well while her guard is sent for dressing room access clearances, Dee nervously lights up a cigarette, wondering if she's going to make it before the final set begins. She is eventually escorted to Phil's room after intervention by someone (identity withheld) with obvious influence.


Old habits die hard. Intermission is always a cue for a chat and a drink.  In the Green Room life is no different. Family are talking to friends - friends to old school mates - old school mates to musicians - and musicians to the family.  Sadness is also present as discussion inevitably turns to the recent loss of Tommy's mother (October 2003) and what this event would have meant to her, had she been present.  "Very proud, indeed", is the unanimous verdict.  Everyone is reminiscing ... hitherto untold yarns are spun about the good old days ... and brother Darcy's account of the day the police rolled up to a well paid country town gig to collect not a few long outstanding traffic fines draws laughter. The room-chatter meter is gradually rising ... very much in line with humidity levels as the Green Room's air conditioning struggles to cope.


A timely reminder sounds forth from the open Green Room doorway ... a quiet, yet authoritative call for "hushhhh!" draws instant collective submission.  Discussion eventually resumes and, at least for remainder of intermission, is contained to acceptable whisper levels.  The Emmanuel Brothers are backstage in their dressing rooms, just metres away.  Were Tommy to hear the sound of just one familiar voice, it may ... nay!... will! ... entirely ruin the evening's intended surprise.


All is carefully planned ... with the 'sting' timed to hit precisely at the end of Tommy and Phil's final 10:15pm scheduled encore.


Tommy takes the stage for the second half of the show.  He is to be joined by, and accompanies the delightful voice of soul-mate Elizabeth Watkins for a short time as the concert draws heavily for its final breath.  Upon Lizzie's retirement from the microphone Phil reappears to join Tommy for that one last farewell bracket. The end of the show is  at hand... or so Tommy thinks!


Production Room

Make-Up over, the Green Room guests  are ushered to the backstage Production Room where, seated before a small in-house television monitor, the final songs of the concert are taken in.  Phil and Tommy move into their final number.  What was up to this time a collective air of quiet anticipation, turns quickly to restrained excitement as each of the guests assembled, in his/her own way, contemplates the 'springing' of Tommy Emmanuel that lay directly ahead.


Among the friends assembled, and waiting to surprise Tommy, were Darcy Emmanuel, Veronica, Virginia McGrath (Tommy's brother and sisters);  Martin Townsend (an old school friend), Karen (Tommy's very first girlfriend); Vera ('Gamma') Behan (spiritual counsellor and dear friend); Elizabeth Watkins (Tommy's beautiful new partner), Gary Imhoff (an old family friend now living in New Zealand); Troy Cassar-Daley, Col Joye, Nathan Cavaleri, and VJ King Jr (musician friends - old and new).


The Emmanuel Brothers delivered - as one critic from West Australia put it - "the greatest show on earth".  This was a capacity crowd - well over 1,000 - and the concert ends with a huge standing ovation, and an encore that will live forever in those fan's memories who were privileged to witness it ... and ... then ... came the 'springing' of Tommy Emmanuel!





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The Spring is Finally Sprung


The traditional Encore is at its end.  Tommy Emmanuel is positioned at the front-of-stage microphone - a beaming Phil stands a pace or two back and happy to surrender the spokesman role to Tommy knowing what is coming from behind the backstage curtain.  A well-satisfied audience continues with sustained applause.... and, then, from rear of stage...


Enter Mike Munro, lighting and TV camera crew.


Tumultuous applause erupts throughout the whole auditorium as the audience, 'high-as-a-kite' after an extraordinary 2-hour performance and instantly twigging to what is unfolding before their eyes, revels in the unique privilege of sharing in the excitement of being present for this incredible 'sting' .... and, for one fleeting moment, Tommy puzzles at the crowd's seeming over-reaction to the farewell words he had just spoken, and totally oblivious to the intruders moving in from behind to 'capture' him.


Tommy turns - and is greeted in that instant by the glare of camera lights ... and, when blur turns to focus, he sights Mike Munro.


It was a stunned Thomas William Emmanuel... a rare sight... and one very emotional moment for all concerned - for Tommy, Phil, the audience, the Emmanuel road and management crew, the television crews and, especially, his proud family and the honored guests waiting to pay tribute to one of the greatest guitarists of all time.


The applause continues loud.  It is clearly heartfelt. This is an audience in love as much with the man as his music. Clapping is overtaken by cheering and shouts of joy. Well, this is, after all, one of Australia's most unsung musical hero's ... and, now, here is their opportunity to give him a spontaneous hero's welcome, ensuring the seal of recognition so long deserved is finally waxed with the words, Tommy Emmanuel C.G.P. 


Congratulations to Andrew Rodgers and the Nine Network crews are not out of place here - brilliantly choreographed... and executed with clockwork precision.   Aside from all else, this moving audience reaction along with the excitement present back stage is instant confirmation for all at Channel Nine ... a resounding endorsement that THIS This Is Your Life is going to be one of their greatest Shows, ever.  And it was so.


Mike Munro's opening remarks to Tommy, to the effect that they had been trying to 'nab' Tommy for more than 8 years, brought renewed and enthusiastic applause... and, for a time, it did seem as if the shouts of acclamation would never end... no doubt because no one really wanted the moment to end.


Eventually, above the cheers, Mike Munro casts forth with those now famous words - "Tommy Emmanuel! - This Is Your Life!" - and a million goosebumps 'Shimmy'.






A Fitting Finale


Guests are introduced - embraced - and interviewed.  A predictable sadness of sorts prevails as the night and the filming draw to a close.  What better way to end the night and the This Is Your Life program, than to have host Mike Munro inviting the five guitarists present - Tommy Emmanuel, Phil Emmanuel, Col Joye, Troy Cassar-Daley, and VJ King Jr - to take centre stage for a final jam.  To hear these guys strut their stuff, young and old together, with an impromptu rendition of Guitar Boogie, was a sight that brought tears of joy to many an eye. It doesn't matter that the licks / solos are not among the slickest ever played ... what matters is the moment... the thrill of being present to witness and live out this unique chapter in music history.


When the tapes are finally edited (down to the prescribed 46 minutes for a 1-hour program) it is to be hoped the public are allowed to share in the pleasure of this very, very special closing moment.


As for the impact on a young 12-year old guitarist barely 5 years into his own music pilgrimage -  well, simply put, VJ did not want the night to end.  Off to the after-party he went - and at 3:00AM the kid was still signing autographs, getting hugs from the ladies (grrrrrrr!), chatting with party guests and mixing with a host of leading lights from the music, entertainment, and media industries.


Being made feel welcome in such a huge and influential circle is a very nice, indeed flattering experience for this young musician.  It was his first experience of life from inside the circle.


Col Joye willingly takes VJ under his wing to strike a pose or two for Nine's official photographer.  Tommy and Phil Emmanuel, in turn, embrace the Kid and, likewise, pose for the hungry lenses.


Maton Guitar company's principals Linda and Neville Kitchen are introduced. It is clear, that musicians are not alone as the beneficiaries of Tommy's generosity and loyalty. Both speak so highly and warmly of him, and are obviously proud to be present.


"Don't want the night to end." - was VJ's  response when asked if he was enjoying himself.


At around 4:00AM, struggling with the weight of a guitar case made heavier because the night had ended, VJ stumbles through the front doors of a down-lit and emptied Jupiters into a slight zephyr that did little to relieve the pressing humidity along the short, silent walk back to room 1211 at the Grand Mercure.


Struggling to stay awake the little 'digger' wanted to walk back to the hotel... it was his way of holding on to, and savoring, that which would soon be lost in the unconsciousness of sleep... vivid, meaningful, and moving memories.  Of all the incredible experiences that have graced this lad's path over the past 5 or 6 years - this was the big daddy of them all ... the all-time high water mark.


VJ's only deep disappointment is the line that he had scripted, and wanted so much to deliver when interviewed by Mike Munro - "... I just want to thank God that He made Tommy a music man..."  This, in all the dizzy excitement of the occasion, he had forgotten.


"After silence, music comes closest to expressing the inexpressible."  Tucked into bed, VJ turns the dial to a soft music channel - stares into the beyond - then drifts off to sleep. ■



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[1] This Is Your Life

Show Host: Mike Munro

Producer:  Andrew Rodgers

Associate Producer: Juliet Phillips

Researcher: Sarah Evans

Production Manager: Simon Ritchie

Production Assistant: Heidi Sutherland

..... plus the various production crews!


Nine Network Australia Pty Limited

24 Artarmon Road



International + 612 9496 1744


[2] Tommy Emmanuel

Gina MENDELLO (Manager)

PO Box 121983
United States of America

International + 1 615 333 2202


[3] Phil Emmanuel

Dee LEBLANG (Manager)

PO Box 64

International + 612 9456 7440


[3] Jupiters Casino

Broadbeach Island



International +61 7 5592 8100





Monday 17th February 2004

Stay tuned for information as it comes to hand about when the show will go to air.




VJ King Jr | Nathan Cavaleri

VJ King Jr | Col Joye


Nathan Cavaleri

Col Joye


VJ King Jr | Troy Cassar-Daley

VJ King Jr | Tommy Emmanuel


Troy Cassar-Daley

Tommy Emmanuel


VJ King Jr | Gina Mendello

VJ King Jr | Heidi


Gina Mendello

Heidi Sutherland


VJ King Jr | Sarah Evans

VJ King Jr | Phil Emmanuel


Sarah Evans

Phil Emmanuel


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▲... if you'd like to send your personal congratulations to Tommy Emmanuel

VJ King Jr | Tommy Emmanuel GuestBook


▲... if you'd like to send your personal congratulations to VJ King Jr

VJ King Jr | GuestBook


VJ King Jr | Home Page

VJ King Jr | Official Phil Emmanuel website

VJ King Jr | Official Tommy Emmanuel website

VJ King Jr | NEWS Page


VJ King Jr | This Is Your Life | Jupiters Casino 2004

VJ King Jr | Gallery Page


More Photos from Jupiters After-Party