Rik Emmett

Canadian Classic Rock

Rik Emmett

Rik Emmett


Rik Emmett is unquestionably one of Canada's greatest musical gifts. Born in Toronto in 1953, he took his first guitar lesson at age 12. His diverse playing styles of today could have been predicted in his childhood, with a wide array of influences, including The Beatles, Zeppelin, and Jimi, as well as blues, jazz, flamenco and classical.Rik Emmett is unquestionably one of Canada's greatest musical gifts. Born in Toronto in 1953, he took his first guitar lesson at age 12. His diverse playing styles of today could have been predicted in his childhood, with a wide array of influences, including The Beatles, Zeppelin, and Jimi, as well as blues, jazz, flamenco and classical.

Rik's early love for jazz prompted him to enroll in Humber College's program in '73, only to drop out the same year. It was shortly thereafter that he joined the group Justin Paige. Less than a year later he left to form Act 3. After calling it quits with that trio the same year, he formed Triumph with Gil Moore and Mike Levine. In 1976 the three would record the first of nine studio records together in and would go on to become icons of Canadian rock, penning the classics "Hold On", "Magic Power", "Never Surrender", "Rock and Roll Machine" and "Lay It On The Line", as well as '77's cover of Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way".

Rik left Triumph to venture into solo waters in September of '88. ABSOLUTELY was released in the spring of 1990. Backed by the tender single, "When A Heart Breaks", it showcased his strong pop sensibility. From the uptempo lead off track "Drive Time" and "Big Lie" to the collaberation with Graham Shaw, "Smart Fast and Lucky", if there was a doubt about his ability to survive outside Triumph, it was quickly put to rest. Rik was rewarded for his incredible debut when ABSOLUTELY was certified gold. Also noteable were the haunting solos in "The Way That You Love Me" and sheer power of "Stand and Deliver".

IPSO FACTO hit the shelves in '92 and grabbed you by the walls from the opening riffs of "Straight Up" . Followed by the equally powerful "Bang On" and "Rainbow Man", one of his most electrifying tracks to date. Again he displayed his incredible diversity with the light melodies of "Let Love Conquer All" and "Heaven In Your Heart". Ever expanding his sound, the horns and harmonies in "Dig A Little Deeper" shows why he's one of Canada's greatest writers of tight, listener-friendly pop. With something for everyone, both AM and FM stations ate up IPSO FACTO, nearly pushing it gold.

His next release wouldn't be until '95, with SPIRAL NOTEBOOK. With the lead-off "Anything You Say", a laid-back, well thought-out progression of pop rock is set. Backed by "Let Me Be The One" and "The Longing", SN was one of the year's better, but perhaps not fully respected albums of the year. Trends and fads come and go in music. And in an age when program directors found it hard to play consistently good music by known artists, Rik was bucking the trend, cranking out hit after killer track. The peak of the album may have been "Let Me Be The One" reaching number one in adult contemporary radio. Other noteable cuts included "The Pendulum", "The Hardest Part" and "Silent Revolutions", again showcasing his incredible dexterity, handling different guitar styles with equal precision and grace.

He followed up with TEN INVITATIONS FROM THE MISTRESSES OF MR. E in early '97. With flamenco and classical influences, INVITATIONS is nothing short of an instrumental masterpiece. Praised by guitarists the planet-over, the sheer brilliance of tracks like"Acadian Dance", "Angelina's Smile", and "A Whisper Away" also appeal to the masses who can't play "Smoke On The Water" the same way twice. Also on the record was the Spanish-flavoured "El Cuento del Gadjo" and "Ascending in St. Anne's", a reminiscence of a Toronto church, which featured Rik's 14 year-old daughter Shannon on keyboards.

Rik showcased his true love for jazz flavours in '97 with SWING SHIFT, released later that same year and is an incredible collection that runs the gamut of his jazz and swing influences. Included are the uptempo "Mr Bebop", "Way Cool" and the slickly laid-out jazz instrumental "Three Clouds Across The Mountain".

THE GUITAR TRILOGY was completed in '99 when Rik released the eagerly-anticipated RAW QUARTET. A stripped down but well crafted piece, tracks like "Crazy Woman", "Come Clean" and "Navajo Sunrise" dig deep into his blues roots, while "Hogtown Rag" proudly displays his down-home love for what he affectionately believes is the center of the universe.

Aside from music, Rik Emmett is an accomplished cartoonist, with his famed 'Rocktoons' featured in Hit Parader magazine during the early 80's, while also contributing to Guitar Player magazine monthly, giving advice and laying out techniques to all who aspired to make it in the biz, or just better their skills. Rik also finds time to be a family man with four kids and coach little league as well. On top of that, he holds a seat on the Board of SOCAN. And though still touring, just less often, his true passion are the intimate shows put on as part of his 'Grass Roots Tour'.

In a world where practically anyone but me can get a recording contract, it's a testament to anyone who's enjoyed as much success, and garnered as much international respect as Rik Emmett has. Whether solo or as part of Triumph, countless gold and platinum records usually speak for themselves, but that's to only tell one side of the story. It takes a true star to be the type of role model, professionally and personally that he is, inspiring musicians across the world, and just simply giving alot of pleasure to even more casual listening fans. Never wandering too far from his roots and proud of his home, Rik Emmett is truly a Canadian legend.

Written by Dan Brisebois of


Absolutely (1990)

Drive Time
Big Lie
Saved By Love
When A Heart Breaks
World Of Wonder
Stand And Deliver
The Way That You Love Me
Middle Ground
Heaven Only Knows
Smart Fast Mean and Lucky
Passage For Big Nick

Ipso Facto
Ipso Facto (1992)

Straight Up
Bang On
Let Love Conquer All
Heaven In Your Heart
Dig A Little Deeper
Lickity Bit
Rainbow Man
Out Of The Blue
Meet You There
Can't Lie To Myself
Do Me Good
Calling St Cecilia
Woke Up This Morning

Spiral Notebook
Spiral Notebook (1995)

Anything You Say
Raise High
Talk It Over
The Longing
Casey's On A Roll
Let Me Be The One
Little Bitta Love
Let Me Be The One
Silent Revolutions
The Numbers Game
The Pendulum
The Hardest Part

Ten Invitations
Ten Invitations from the Mistresses of Mr. E (1997)

El Cuento del Gadjo
The Castle of Regret
Angelina's Smile
Buggy Ride
A Whisper Away
Ascending in St. Anne's
Secret Wishes
Acadian Dance
The Seventh Circle

Swing Shift
Swing Shift (1997)

Taste Of Steel
Way Cool
Swing Shift
Three Clouds Across The Moon
Santa Fe Horizon
Swizzle Stick
One Look
Key Chain
Veronica's Blue Waltz
Mr Bebop
A Theory of Relativity

Raw Quartet
Raw Quartet (1999)

Perpetual Motion Love
Hogtown Rag
All On Board
The Last Goodbye
C'mon Along
Crazy Woman
Head Case
Too Little Too Late
Come Clean
Navajo Sunrise

Guitar Sampler
Guitar Sampler (1999)

Hogtown Rag
Crazy Woman
Acadian Dance
Angelina's Smile
Mr Be-bop
Three Clouds Across The Moon

The Spirit of Christmas
The Spirit of Christmas (1999)

I Saw Three Ships
It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
Joy To The World
Oh Holy Night
(Medley) We Three Kings/The Huron Carol/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Gentlemen Invention
Oh Come All Ye Faithful
Silent Night
What Child Is This
What Child Invention
Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
(Medley) The Holly and the Ivy/We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Live at Berklee
Live at Berklee (2000)

Blown Fuse
Melancholy Moon
Taste Of Steel
The Seventh Circle
Crazy Woman
Key Chain
The Last Goodbye
Head Case
Mr. Bebop
Those Shoes
El Cuento Del Gadjo
Acadian Dance
Berklee Rocks

See Also

Other Biographies

Back to Canadian Classic Rock Main Page