Triumph | The Canadian Encyclopedia



Rock band, formed in Mississauga, Ont, in 1975 by Mike Levine (bass guitar, keyboards) and Gil Moore (drums, vocals) with Rik Emmett (guitar, vocals). All three contributed, or collaborated on, songs in the band's repertoire.


Rock band, formed in Mississauga, Ont, in 1975 by Mike Levine (bass guitar, keyboards) and Gil Moore (drums, vocals) with Rik Emmett (guitar, vocals). All three contributed, or collaborated on, songs in the band's repertoire. The guitar and keyboard player Rick Santers was added in 1986 for Triumph's concert appearances. The trio moved quickly from local high schools and Ontario bars to concert halls, making its first US appearance in San Antonio, Tex, in 1977, and its first Canadian tour in 1978. It performed regularly at Maple Leaf Gardens 1978-87; two concerts there a week apart in April 1985 were sold out. In 1979 and 1981 it appeared at the CNE Grandstand. Its touring itinerary took it to similar arenas and stadiums throughout North America, and to England in 1981. A video of its performance in 1987, in front of 250,000 people at the US Festival in California, Live at the US Festival, was issued by MCA.

Initially its instrumentation, high-tech, power-rock style, and the pyro-technical nature of its performances brought Triumph comparisons to Rush. To wit, Peter Goddard described its music as 'a kind of over-weaning, head-bending music that seriously challenged Rush's supremacy as the masters of the sonic clout' (Toronto Star, 24 Mar 1979). Rarely favored by the critics, Triumph was often depicted by the Toronto media as a business rather than creative venture. In fact, Triumph opened its own recording studio, Metalworks Studio, in Mississauga, in 1978; more recently Moore has focussed his energies on the studio, which has become an educational facility for recording engineers and technicians. Metalworks has received nine recording studio of the year awards at the Canadian Music Industry Awards.


Rik Emmett came to be regarded as one of the premier guitarists in rock, and the group has had both a hard-core and mainstream following. Some of its more melodic material (usually sung by Emmett) enjoyed wide radio play - eg, 'Hold On' (1979, from Just a Game, Attic LAT-1061), 'Magic Power' (1981, from Allied Forces, Attic LAT-1122), and 'Somebody's Out There' (1986) and 'Just One Night' (1987, both from The Sport of Kings, MCA MCA-5786).

Other albums released by Attic (1976-82) were Triumph (LAT-1012); Rock & Roll Machine (LAT-1036); Progressions of Power (LAT-1083); and Never Surrender (LAT-1150). For MCA 1984-9 Triumph released Thunder Seven (MCA-5537); Stages (comprising concert excerpts 1981-5, MCA-2-8020); Surveillance (MCA-42083); and Classics (MCA-42283). Domestic sales of most of its albums exceeded 100,000 each in Canada; Just a Game and Thunder Seven achieved gold record status in the US; Never Surrender sold more than a million copies and also became a gold record album. Allied Forces achieved platinum sales in the US. Song folios corresponding with Triumph's albums have been published by Warner.

Triumph received four Juno award nominations for group of the year (1979, 1985-6).

Evolution and Awards Post-1988

Emmett left Triumph in 1988 and began touring Canada and the US on his own in 1990. His album Absolutely (1989-90, Duke Street DSR-31068) included 'When a Heart Breaks,' 'Saved by Love,' and 'World of Wonder'. Triumph did not disband after Emmett's departure but remained inactive 1989-91.

In 1993, Triumph released Edge of Excess, for which it received another Juno nomination for hard rock album of the year. That same year their label, Victory Music, dissolved and the members disbanded. Five years later they reunited for several US concerts to commemorate their twentieth anniversary. Original members Levine and Moore established TML Entertainment and re-released several of Triumph's live recordings on CD and performance DVDs.

Triumph was inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame in 2007, and in 2008 the original band members were inducted into the Juno Hall of Fame.


'Triumph on the road to Toronto,' Toronto Star, 4 Apr 1985

Moore, Gil. 'How to survive as a rock musician in the 80's,' AF of M pamphlet, undated

Emmett has written many columns for the US periodical Guitar Player


Stone, Mad. 'Triumph,' Canadian Musician, vol 2, Apr 1980

Lacey, Liam. 'Rocker Emmett writes a column, revels in Ravel,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 23 Mar 1985

Stern, Perry. 'Triumph make The Record from Hell,' Canadian Musician, vol 8, Oct 1986

Penfield, Wilder III. 'Notes from the front lines of rock,' Toronto Sun, 3 Jan 1987

Collins, Diane. 'Tough all over,' Rock Express, 120, Jan 1988

'And then there were two,' Music Express, 131, Dec 1988

'Absolutely the frontman,' Music Express, 151, Sep 1990

Selected Discography

Triumph. 1976. Attic Records

Rock and Roll Machine. 1977. RCA

Just a Game. 1979. RCA

Progressions of Power. 1980. RCA

Allied Forces. 1981. RCA

Never Surrender. 1983. RCA

Thunder Seven. 1984. MCA

Stages. 1985. MCA

The Sport of Kings. 1986. MCA

Surveillance. 1987. MCA

Classics. 1989. TRC

Edge of Excess. 1993. Victory Music Inc.

King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Triumph. 1996. King Biscuit Entertainment

In the Beginning. 1995. Triumph. 1976. Attic Records (originally released as Triumph)

Live at the US Festival. 2003. TML Entertainment Inc. (DVD)

Living for the Weekend: Anthology. 2005. TML Entertainment Inc. (DVD)

Extended Versions. 2006. Sony/BMG