Best known as the guitarist (and often 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 he 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/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, Emmett issued a wide variety of solo releases and toured regularly, including 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, as such further releases as 2000's Live at Berklee, 2002's Handiwork and 2003's Good Faith were released, as was 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. Additionally, the guitarist currently serves on the board of directors for the Songwriters Association of Canada, teaches a music career development course at Toronto's Humber College, and also oversees his own website, www.rikemmett.com. ~ Greg Prato