Best known as the guitarist (and often the singer) of hard-edged prog rockers Triumph, Rik Emmett went on to launch his own solo career after leaving the group in the late '80s. Born in Toronto, Canada in 1953, Emmett picked up the guitar just before his teenage years, and eventually studied a wide variety of styles -- classical, pop, jazz, and rock. After dropping out of college during the early '70s, Emmett pursued music full-time and was a member of such obscure Canadian outfits as the glam-based Justin Paige and the more progressive Act III. By the middle of the decade, Emmett had joined forces with drummer/singer Gil Moore and bassist Mike Levine, which led to the formation of Triumph.
Following in the footsteps of another Canadian trio, Rush, Emmett and company specialized in a prog rock-meets-heavy metal style, but Triumph also incorporated elements of arena rock (i.e., singalong anthems) into its sound. Several albums followed in the late '70s (1976's self-titled debut, 1977's Rock & Roll Machine, and 1979's Just a Game), while the group's over the top live show (heavy on intricate lighting and lasers) proved popular among headbangers in Canada and the United States. Triumph peaked commercially with such releases as 1980's Progressions of Power, 1981's Allied Forces, 1982's Never Surrender, and 1984's Thunder Seven, during which time Emmett's instrumental talents were often recognized, as his mug graced the cover of quite a few guitar publications. It was around this time that Emmett began writing his own monthly column in Guitar Player magazine (as well as the humorous "Rocktoons" for Hit Parader), and began a long association with the Yamaha guitar company.
But a cool reception welcomed a pair of Triumph releases in 1985, Stages and The Sport of Kings. With interest in the group waning, Emmett departed Triumph in 1988, as he had become increasingly frustrated with the group's musical direction. Emmett was supposedly offered gigs in both Asia and Damn Yankees soon after, but opted instead to launch a solo career. Throughout the '90s, he issued a wide variety of solo efforts and toured regularly, releasing such titles as 1990's Absolutely, 1992's Ipso Facto, 1996's Spiral Notebook, 1997's Ten Invitations from the Mistress of Mr. E. and Swing Shift, plus 1999's Raw Quartet and The Spirit of Christmas (the latter a collaboration with keyboardist Sam Reid). Also during the late '90s, an archival live Triumph release featuring Emmett (from 1981) was issued, 1996's King Biscuit Flower Hour (In Concert).
The early 21st century saw Emmett keep up his steady pace of issuing recordings and playing live shows. Further releases included 2000's Live at Berklee, 2002's Handiwork, and 2003's Good Faith, and his very own edition of the 20th Century Masters - Millennium Collection series, The Best of Rik Emmett. Strung Out Troubadours: Live at Hugh's Room, with Dave Dunlop, arrived in 2007. That same year saw Emmett and his Triumph bandmates inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame. Emmett and Dunlop would go on to release more albums under the Strung Out Troubadours moniker, including 2009's Push & Pull, and in 2016 Emmett released the eponymous debut album from his newest project, Resolution9, which featured contributions from Alex Lifeson (Rush), James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Mike Levine, and Gil Moore. ~ Greg Prato