Tommy Emmanuel is one of only five guitarists anointed as ‘Certified Guitar Players’ by his hero Chet Atkins. The other four Chet Atkins Certified Guitar Players are John Knowles, Jerry Reed, Steve Wariner, and Paul Yandell.
Chet Atkins as a musician and guitarist had his influence on Tommy Emmanuel. “Chet, of course, blew everyone’s mind when he came along. When I was a kid, Chet was the name of everyone’s lips, and everyone wanted to be like him” Emmanuel said.
Acoustic legend Tommy Emmanuel has picked his playing idols and below is the list where you can what Tommy said about them. Enjoy reading!
“Django created a whole gender of music that people are still listening to and trying to emulate. They call it ‘gypsy jazz,’ but I think Django just called it jazz. Django had more good ideas than any soloist I’ve ever heard. He had a great drive in his playing and a beautiful tone from his acoustic guitar. Towards the end of his life, he showed us he could play bebop and play incredible inside lines like Charlie Parker. Django was the Louis Armstrong of the guitar.” – Tommy Emmanuel.
Paco De Lucia
“Paco is the greatest guitar player I’ve ever seen, period. His music is so deep and so beautiful. It’s almost overwhelming when you hear it live. His technique and ideas were the best I’ve ever heard of anybody, in any genre.” – Tommy Emmanuel.
“Jerry came along in the 60s. We had all grown up listening to Merle Travis and Chet Atkins, then Jerry Reed came along and here was this whole other style of playing. He didn’t sound like anybody else, and his playing was completely unique. His playing was just on another level and it was hard to fathom what he was doing. When I finally met Jerry I asked him, ‘How did you end up playing like this?’ He replied to me, ‘I was just trying to be like Ray Charles.’” – Tommy Emmanuel.
“Steve is one of the best soloists I’ve ever seen in the rock and rock fusion genre. If you want to hear some of his greatest works, I love the solo he played on Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical”. It’s phenomenal! Nobody else could have brought to that track what he brought. All his solos on the Toto tracks are beautiful as well. The solos he played on Chicago’s Hard Habit to Break and Boz Scaggs “Breakdown Dead Ahead”, they were some of the greatest solos I’ve ever heard.” – Tommy Emmanuel.
“His early recordings, especially a lot of his solo stuff, were so incredibly arranged and recorded. No-one had his kind of abilities. His abilities were on a level that most of us had never heard before.” – Tommy Emmanuel.
“George Benson came along at a time when jazz was really almost dead. He inspired a whole generation of people through pop music, but with a jazz flavor. George brought so much to the genre and his soloing was amazing. The first time I saw him play I was speechless. I had to say to myself, ‘What did I just see?’” – Tommy Emmanuel.
“Larry’s playing in the early days, when he played on Joni Mitchell records, his solos were beautiful and memorable. When he came out with his own original albums, he totally solidified himself as one of the premier soloists. His solo songs like Kid Charlemange, are classics. Larry Carlton almost defines the genre of fusion and rock.” – Tommy Emmanuel.
“Don Rich blew my mind when I was a kid because I was so in love with the sound of his Telecaster and the way he played. He was one of the biggest influences on every guitar player who played in country music. Everybody wanted to play like Don Rich: he was the man.” – Tommy Emmanuel.
“Right back to Dale Hawkins “Susie Q” and Ricky Nelson’s “Hello Mary Lou”, those solos, if you listened to them today they’re still as good as anything I’ve ever heard in my life. I love James Burton’s playing with Elvis Presley. When Elvis first came to Vegas in 1969, for his comeback special, the solos that James played, especially in “That’s Alright Mama” and C.C Rider, it’s classic Telecaster playing. I love James Burton.” – Tommy Emmanuel.
“Eric Clapton’s another guitar player that’s blown my mind many times. It’s because of his ability to create a solo that tells you a story. He never plays anything fast, it’s always well-thought-out and beautifully played. My favorite Eric Clapton recording would have to be the Ray Charles song “Hard Times” on The Journeyman album. His playing and singing are so stellar.” – Tommy Emmanuel.