Few guitarists have extended their playing horizons like Rik Emmett. From rock and blues, through jazz and fusion, to folk and classical, his long and flourishing career underlines his ability as one of the world’s most accomplished and versatile exponents of the instrument.
Hailing from Toronto, Rik Emmett, born in 1953, took up the guitar aged 12, being taught right-handed despite the fact that he was left-handed. With diverse early influences ranging from Hendrix to Charlie Byrd and Lenny Breau, and having dropped out of a college jazz course after only one term, his pro career kicked off in 1973 with glam-rock band Justin Paige, leaving a year or so later to form prog-rock trio Act III. Fame beckoned shortly afterwards as one of the founders of the high-octane rock trio, Triumph, who notched up mega record sales over the next decade and earned Emmett a place in the Canadian Rock Hall of Fame.
Leaving Triumph in 1988, Rik released three successful solo albums between then and the mid-‘90s, and in more recent years has concentrated on a much-praised guitar trilogy project of instrumental albums. The first, Invitations, is interwoven with classical guitar influences; Swing Shift highlights his archtop and acoustic jazz and fusion mastery; while the third, Raw Quartet, released in 1999, is very much in the blues, rock and ragtime mould. His latest CD, Live at Berklee, was recorded from two nights of solo performances - from the trilogy and some previously unreleased tracks - to sell-out audiences at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. The album is on Open House Records, an independent label owned by Emmett.
Despite his busy schedule, Rik has always found time for other music-related activities. He was, for example, a regular columnist for Guitar Player magazine for many years, he published a four-volume set of guitar instruction books, For the Love of Guitar, and is on the board of directors for the Songwriting Association of Canada as well as teaching a Music Career Development course at Toronto’s Humber College. He still manages to fit in weekly games of basketball too!