GUITAR MAGAZINE once described Rik this way: "He’s one of the only guitarists out there who may be too talented for his own damn good." As a founding member of TRIUMPH, his blazing guitar solos and trademark vocals helped push the Toronto-based trio into multiple gold and platinum sales worldwide in the ‘70’s and 80’s, and earned him a spot in the Canadian Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He also branched out as a magazine columnist and a cartoonist. In recent years, Rik’s creative horizon has broadened into more of an acoustic singer/songwriter approach, which is currently married to a trilogy of guitar instrumental releases and a 4 volume set of guitar instruction books.
The trilogy of CD’s have been released nationally by OPEN HOUSE RECORDS, an independent venture headed by Emmett that currently includes a digital recording studio, THE REC ROOM, and a mail order business network. Public demand, critical reaction and Rik’s unique artistic personality convinced EMI to provide national distribution in an arrangement with their prestigious ARTISAN label.
The final installment in the trilogy has just arrived here on the scene in early 1999. RAW QUARTET is a lively small ensemble performance of blues and classic blues/rock, recorded with a "jamming" kind of energy and without a lot of overdubs or extra tracking. Rik writes:
"This final chapter covers the remaining roots of my guitar playing. I’ve gone from the nylon-string classical guitar influence of INVITATIONS to the arch-top jazz of SWING SHIFT through to the blues/rock riffing and ragtime of RAW QUARTET. The influence of the Yardbirds alumni, Beck/Clapton/Page, should be obvious here, as are the strains of Hendrix via Stevie Ray Vaughan. Yet I’d like to think that it stands as my own, a very Hogtown, Canadian, original music - my own little hybrid mosaic, if you will."
The trilogy project began in November 1997 with Ten Invitations from the Mistress of Mr. E. John Schoenberger of THE ALBUM NETWORK wrote: "...Emmett borrows from the genres of flamenco, folk and soft jazz, bringing 10 instrumental compositions to life via the nylon-string classical guitar and the use of restrained arrangements. What will impress you most is Emmett’s command of his instrument". Sybil McGuire of FRIDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK said: "Ten Invitations... shows Emmett to be an artist with an unbelievable range and artistic vision."
Drawing on Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Lenny Breau and Pat Metheny influences, the accessible, uptempo grooves of Swing Shift followed in early 1998. The CD’s 12 original tracks ¾ three vocal and nine instrumental ¾ reveal Rik’s fascination with traditional arch-top jazz electric guitars and steel string flat-top acoustics, and show his facility with a number of different styles from blues-oriented swing to cool "smooth" jazz, Latin and fusion.
Many tunes throughout the trilogy were recorded with members of THE OPEN HOUSE COLLECTIVE, a loose group of friends and musical collaborators.
Born in 1953 in Toronto, Canada, RIK EMMETT started taking guitar lessons when he was twelve years old. As a beginning student, he was taught to hold the guitar the right-handed way, despite the fact that he was left-handed. During his teenage years,
Rik opted for an eclectic "self-taught" approach that ranged from Mickey Baker guitar theory books and Segovia Study Pieces to Beatles songs and psychedelia. His early influences ranged from Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin to Charlie Byrd and Lenny Breau.
In 1973, Rik enrolled in the jazz program at Humber College, only to drop out after one semester. A few weeks later he landed a gig with glam-rockers, JUSTIN PAIGE. He left that band less than a year later to form ACT III, a trio with Denton Young and Chris Brockway. That association was also short-lived. In the summer of ’75, Rik was approached to help form TRIUMPH.
Rik’s partnership in TRIUMPH lasted until September 1988 when he left the trio to embark on a solo career. He recorded three solo albums, Absolutely (1990), Ipso Facto (1992) and Spiral Notebook (1995) on the Duke Street/MCA label. His most recent recording effort is the guitar trilogy.
Happily married for 23 years, Rik is a father of four who coaches in his neighborhood baseball and soccer youth leagues, a connection back to his glory days as a keen but highly breakable high school jock. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the Songwriters Association of Canada and chairs the Advisory Board for the music program at Humber College. Rik has also been a columnist and cartoonist. He was a regular contributor to GUITAR PLAYER MAGAZINE for over 12 years, and his "Rocktoons" were a popular feature in HIT PARADER MAGAZINE from 1981 to 1983. The history and evidence of both of these endeavors are on display in Rik’s four volume guitar instruction series, "For The Love of Guitar".
Rik has a large personal collection of guitars, including some rare and beautiful YAMAHA custom handmade instruments that have come his way through a 15 year relationship with the company, highlighted by the Yamaha COMPASS acoustic (CPX-15N), as well as a few wild and wacky conversation pieces.