Rik Emmett – Vocals/Guitar
Mike Levine – Bass/Keyboards
Gil Moore – Drums/Vocals
The Canadian hard-rock power trio Triumph stands out as a visionary, uniquely influential entity among their fellow brethren. Virtuoso musicianship, soaring melodies and exceptional songs with a positive perspective and outstanding live shows made vocalist/guitarist Rik Emmett, bass guitarist/keyboardist Mike Levine and vocalist/drummer Gil Moore destined for stardom. They defined and epitomized arena rock.
Individually, Emmett, Levine and Moore received countless accolades for their instrumental abilities. Their creative prowess manifested itself in other outlets as well. Levine co-produced some of the band’s early work. Emmett became a cartoonist for Hit Parader magazine. Moore designed Triumph’s phenomenal live show, which consistently evolved over the years and always utilized state-of-the-art lighting, laser and pyrotechnic effects. In fact, Triumph received the influential Performance Magazine’s Innovators of the Year award in 1981 for the unique way they changed the arena rock landscape.
Triumph formed in Toronto, Ontario, in 1975 after a chance meeting led Emmett, Levine and Moore to embark on a marathon jam session. They immediately decided to form a band and the debut Triumph was released in 1976 on Attic Records. Triumph’s gift for delicate, intricate pieces and blistering raveups was evident on this first album. Blinding Light Show features mellow acoustic passages but was a prophetic song title considering the senses-stunning concerts the band was soon to perfect. Street Fighter is a full-bore rocker.
The second album, Rock N Roll Machine, followed in 1977. The title track is a standout due in large part to Emmett’s light-speed guitar solo. Also included are a cover of Joe Walsh’s Rocky Mountain Way and the two-part New York City Streets and the adventurous epic medley The City.
Triumph’s initial popularity developed in an unusual way. Both Triumph and Rock N Roll Machine were first released only in Canada and garnered significant airplay in Texas. The Lone Star State has always been a prime U.S. market for hard rock and fans responded so favorably that Triumph specifically undertook a Texas tour to promote Rock N Roll Machine.
RCA Records signed Triumph on the strength of the positive buzz generated and the band’s steadily increasing notoriety, and in 1978 released a compilation off the first two albums titled Rock N Machine. In 1979, the album Just A Game was a commercial breakthrough. It generated the band’s first Billboard Top 40 hit single, Hold On. Another notable single was Lay It On the Line. Just A Game solidified Triumph’s relationship with rock radio and was certified gold.
Next up was 1980’s Progressions of Power and its single I Can Survive. The sizzling anthem I Live for the Weekend was a big hit in the United Kingdom and a Friday-at-5:00 staple in the United States.
1981 saw Triumph explode into the mainstream with Allied Forces. It immediately went gold and eventually platinum. This album became a critical and commercial smash, reaching # 23 on the Billboard charts. Its standout song, Magic Power, was a hit single and Fight the Good Fight was another fan favorite. Both songs are still staples at rock radio.
Never Surrender followed in 1983 and went gold due in part to rock radio’s airplay of the powerful A World of Fantasy. It was during the Never Surrender tour that Triumph took part in the US Festival in San Bernardino, California. The band was a cornerstone of what became popularly known as the festival’s Heavy Metal Sunday on May 29, 1983. An estimated crowd of 500,000 people rocked along to Triumph as well as Van Halen, Scorpions, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Cr e and Quiet Riot.
Triumph and RCA parted ways and the band signed with MCA Records. Thunder Seven — appropriately titled since it was the band’s seventh album — was released in 1984. Triumph co-produced Thunder Seven with legendary producer and engineer Eddie Kramer, famed for his work with Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss and others. The album became another gold seller and Follow Your Heart was the popular single. Spellbound was another highlight.
After a decade together as one of the most popular live acts of the time, the long overdue double live album Stages was issued in 1985. The songs were recorded on the road between 1981 and 1985.
1986’s The Sport of Kings marked a career high point when the infectious Somebody’s Out There reached # 27, becoming a major hit single. Just One Night was a Top 10 smash on MTV’s video chart. The muscular Tears in the Rain also thrilled the Triumph faithful. The Sport of Kings was produced by Mike Clink, who followed this project with Guns N Roses Appetite for Destruction due in part to his work with Triumph.
Surveillance hit the streets in 1987. With this album, Triumph broadened its studio approach by adding guest guitarist Steve Morse (formerly of the Dixie Dregs and a member of Kansas at the time), who dueled with Emmett on Headed for Nowhere, and guest keyboardist Dave Traczuk.
In 1988, Emmett left Triumph to pursue a solo career. The best-of album Classics was released in 1989 and still another gold album was added to Triumph’s tally.
Levine and Moore recruited new vocalist/guitarist Phil X, a fellow Canadian formerly of Aldo Nova’s band and Frozen Ghost. Triumph contributed the song Troublemaker to the soundtrack of 1992’s Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. In 1993 the new lineup released Edge of Excess on Victory Music, which featured Troublemaker and Child of the City.
In 1995 the entire Triumph catalog was remastered and reissued on CD. In the Beginning, which was the first Triumph album and the original version of Rock N Roll Machine, appeared that year.
The legendary US Festival performance has been preserved as well. Live at the US Festival was released separately on DVD and CD by TML Entertainment Inc. on September 23, 2003.
The new DVD A Night of Triumph Live was released on TML Entertainment Inc. on March 23, 2004. It captures a concert in its entirety by Triumph’s guitarist/vocalist Rik Emmett, bass guitarist/keyboardist Mike Levine and drummer/vocalist Gil Moore during The Sport of Kings tour on January 16, 1987, at the Metro Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia
These days, Levine and Moore are hard at work at the Metalworks Studios facility in Mississauga, Ontario, preparing future Triumph DVD and CD releases from the vaults. The band built Metalworks Studios long ago for its own recording use but it has become a highly revered, in-demand destination for other artists. In fact, Metalworks Studios was voted the # 1 studio for five years in a row at the Canadian Music Industry Awards.
Nearly 30 years after bursting onto the scene one thing is crystal clear: Triumph’s legacy lives on.
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