The Emmanuel Bros. Whiz Band
The legend of Tommy and Phil Emmanuel extends way back into days of yore.(Early 1980’s if you want to be more exact). But if you were going to pick a point where things were really about to kick into high gear for them, it was The Whiz Band.
The band was a powerhouse of Sydney talent. The cream of the crop.
Featuring Phil and Tommy playing their customised Fender Telecasters, which for the more technically curious both included a middle pick up and a 5 position switch. So basically what you had was a Telecaster body with a Stratocaster pickup configuration. The boys were the first to rape a classic instrument in this way, but it worked.
The show was punctuated with a dazzling acoustic set where they performed songs by Al DiMeola and the like. The electric portion of the show featured material that other bands could only ever dream about doing a decent job of. One thing you can be sure of is that if you managed to catch a Whiz Band gig, you were going to be a fan for life.
The duration of the band was relatively short before the boys moved on and formed Goldrush. The next stage in their evolution.
Update: After speaking to Phil Emmanuel it turns out that there were two versions of this band. The first from 1976-78. They then had four years off to do Goldrush. The second version was from 1982-84 after Tommy had left to go to the US with Doug Parkinson.
- Tommy Emmanuel – Guitar
- Phil Emmanuel – Guitar
- Chris Haigh – Bass
- Steve Hopes – Drums
- Neville Nepia – Vocals/Congas/percussion
- Shauna Jensen – Vocals
- Mal Logan – Keyboards
Hi. Cool to read this Mark Johnson article. I am the guy in the phot playing th congas’ and percussion. My proper name is Neville Nepia not Nev Napier. I believe i’m also being called Graham Nev Nepia. Never heard of him. So just to put the record straight My name is Neville Nepia living now in Rotorua (Aotearoa) New Zealand. Still love the conga’s and always will.
Hi Nev…most prob.dont remember me….was with Dean Willson through the Wiz days….& gold rush Emmanual Bros….great days…great memories…Sad sad dad todad…the wiz adventures on.
Hi Louise. Phil Emmanuel was such a great person. I was so sad to hear of his passing. He was the one who brought me into the band. My apologies Louise but it’s been a while and I can’t quite remember our meeting but thanks for the message on this sad occasion. Take care Neville Nepia
Hi Neville, thanks for that. I’ve corrected the listing.
I saw them perform many times and loved every minute. They used to have a regular set-list which included a song by Poco and a song by Kansas. Does anyone know the names of those two songs.
Did the wizz band ever record anything?
I think the Poco song was called “Legend”..at least that was the Poco song that Goldrush would play?
The Kansas song would have been “Carry on my Wayward Son”, wouldn’t it? I seem to remember they did quite a few similar songs – Wishing Well, and maybe even Shooting Star. Of course, I was drinking bourbon in those days so memories are hazy…
I am sure I saw the Wizz Band with both brothers in 1982 or ’83 at the Illinois Hotel Fivedock, and then later in Cooma (at possibly the Australian Hotel). I know I saw Goldrush outdoors in in Canberra on New Year’s Eve 1982
Hi all, be happy to help with info on the guys. The Emmanuel Quartet was actually where it started, a couple of years before we met in 1963. hi Nev and yes guys it was Carry on Wayward Son that they did. cheers
Aweaome moving back to Oz. Still love lsitening to my bro’s Tommy and Phil online.
Hi,Nev,I recently found this site and got a shock when I saw your name,how have you been?When will you be back in OZ? It would be great to catch up with you.
Oops i ment awesome in that last comment. By the way the email address is temporary because of my move back to OZ
Did you know that after goldrush finished there was The Phil Emmanuel Band during 1981-1982,the members were Phil Emmanuel,Neville Nepier,Tony Slavich,Rob Brown,John Gammage and Matt Abel.John Gammage was later replaced with Wayne Dufty on vocals,later on Tony Slavich was replaced on a few shows by Guy Dutton on keyboards.Every now and then Tommy Emmanuel would also play with the band.I know this due to being the drummer (Matt Abel)for the life of the band.
Thanks so much for that info Matt, much appreciated.
Hey Matt – I did see the PEB a few times, I remember Wayne Dufty doing a great job on vocals, particularly his version of Further on up the Road which really kicked! Whatever happened to him?
Hi Rich,after that band Wayne and I played in a few bands in Sydney,Then we both moved to Tamworth where we started a great 3 piece with Rob Brown (essentially we were half of the Phil Emmanuel Band)that band had a lot of success and Wayne showed his lead playing skills,when that finished Wayne ended up living in Newcastle where he is till this day.We have lost contact,but I still regard him as one of the great singers I have had the pleasure of working with.
Thanks Matt! Good to hear a bit more of the story..I was in Newcastle myself from 96-2000, wonder if he was playing in bands while I was there? Damn! He certainly was/is a great singer
Hi Matt. Neville Nepia here. Apologies for the late reply Matt. Good to hear from you as well. I fly into Perth this year on the 19th July. My better half and I will be living with our daughter south of Perth. Would like to catch up as well. When I’ve settled in and got myself a new email address I’ll post it here for you and I to make contact. How you been my man and Yep those were the days with The PEB and the Wiz band. You know when Phil asked me to join the wiz band I had no idea how popular the brothers were. They were the best of human beings. I always look at them as my bothers. They were of course second to none as musicians. When Phil and Tommy formed the band back in the early 80’s the original band was Phil, Tommy myself, Steve Hopes, Chris Haigh and a great guy Robert (Bugger can’t remember his surname). He was a vocalist and guitarist. He also composed his own songs. When he left that’s when Shauna came on board. About a year and a half later. The original line up did things like the popular midday show on Channel 9 at that time, The Mike Walsh show and stuff like that. The band was starting to look at originals as well. I’ve still got a recording of us doing one of Tommy’s original songs called “if I only had time for love”. I think it was the Randwick Pub where we recorded this song.
Hi Greg Brown you’re right the Kansas song we did was “Carry on my wayward son”. We did some Santana stuff as well like “Well Alright”, “Dealer”, and a great number I got the bad to do called “Wham” by Santana.
Matt I’ve still got my conga’s and will always love playing. Take care buddy. Hope to talk soon
Hi Nev,great to hear from you,when you get settled in OZ I will catch up with you for sure.I still see and speak to Phil,I now live in Tamworth with my three boys living the single parent life,Grieg Brown and the Golliwog Biscuit (Rob Brown) live here too.I am still playing,after PEB Wayne Dufty,Rob Brown and myself had a very successful 3 piece going and when that finished Rob and I ended up playing in the country scene,doing tours with Lee,Tania,Fiona Kernaghan,Troy Cassar Daly,Casey, Bill and Nash Chambers,and just about any other acts needing a rythym section,after that I worked with a great guy and player from LA named Wolf Mail and did some stuff with Mal Eastick,one of those gigs with Rob on bass,on occasion I caught up with The Slav (Tony Slavich) and John Gammage.At the moment I’m in another 3 piece playing out of Newcastle with Izzy Osmanovich (Screaming Jets) and keyboard player Lee Roy Hammond.Wayne Dufty lives in Newcastle but I havn’t seen him for over 10 yrs.Phil comes to Tamworth for the festival in January and I have played with him on a few occasions,so at least once a year we catch up, It’s great to hear from you Nev,I’ll catch up with you soon.
OMG Matt. It’s only taken 2 years to reply to you. Ha! Well been in Perth 2 years now. I’d love to catch up my friend. My email is attached below Matt it you’d like to make contact. Look forward to it.
Hi Nev,terrible news aboutPhil,I was only talking to him 4 days before he passed away,we were trying to organize a few shows with Izzy Osmanovich (ex Screaming Jets) Phil,myself and Rob the bicky Brown,when you get a chance send me a number so I can call you and catch up.I’ve also been talking to John Gammage this year,Rob,Izzy and myself will be attending Phils funeral,just waiting to find out details,lets talk soon,bye Nev.
Hi Matt. 04)55501174. Call when possible buddy I’ll pick up your call as soon as I can. Cheers mate.
I have pics of both Goldrush and the Wiz Band. How can I post photos on this site?
Craig. Hi Wow it takes a while sometimes to get back in the groove. I jus t saw you post about picture you’ve got of Goldrush and The Wiz band. I’d love to see those photos Craig if you don’ t mind posting them or sending them to my email.
He Nev. Send me your email mate….
Look forward to hearing from you Craig.
Hi Nev. Send me your email address and I’d be happy to send you some pics. I spent a good time digitising these. Some have survived better than others.
Hi Craig I would love to see some of your pics – played a lot over the years with Phil and tommy as well as Renee and a few others – cheers
The Robert that Nev mentions was the one and only Robert McIntosh…..
Yes Craig Robert McIntosh. I had so much good times talking and playing with him. I wonder does anyone know how he is?
Robert is retired and living I the Hunter….a great bloke
Email Craig. Look forward to talking to you. Neville
Neville mate, can you send me your email address? Then I can send you some pics.
I everyone, I have two cassette recordings that I am currently digitising. On his from Paddington Green Hotel and the other Players (Cammeray I think?) featuring Kevin Borich. I would be happy to share the recordings for those interested, as they bring back great memories.
Hey Steve. Man recordings? That’s so cool. Would love to hear those again Steve if you posted them. Cheers Steve
Love to hear those recordings, let me know how I can obtain them from you? Cheers!
Oh yes please…was just remembering Paddenting Geen days with my great rock friend Clare…Vale Phil…..sad day?
Louise i remember you now. Took me a while, Guitar playing Louise. You came to watch the band back in the day. I remeber clearly now. Good to hear from you.
Hi Nev. Send me the email mate
Craig Hi mate. Its only been 3 and something years to send you my email. Haha stupid i know so aplogies , If you get this Craig i’d still love to see the pics. Cheers Mate,
When I saw them Tommy was on drums with Phil and Rex Goh on guitars. (Early 80s?)
Used to see the Emmanuel Bros playing at the Pennant Hills Inn quite often, think they had a regular gig there for a while in the early 80’s.
Was always a bitchin’ band to watch.
Fond is my memory of two young men playing small electric guitars in Martin Place in the late seventies (or early eighties). These were buskers of an altogether different nature. Capturing my imagination was the sparkling sound of their strings. Newness and delight were in their music. I stood rapt.
Craig Foley Hi mate. Its only been 3 and something years to send you my email. Haha stupid i know so aplogies , If you get this Craig i’d still love to see the pics. Cheers Mate,