Iconic Canadian rockers TRIUMPH were honored with the “Legends Of Live” award at the 2019 Live Music Industry Awards on Friday, May 10 in the Osgoode East Ballroom at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The award recognizes artists who have made great contributions to the Canadian music industry through live music touring and concerts. All three members of TRIUMPH — Rik Emmett, Mike Levine and Gil Moore — were in attendance to accept the prestigious award.
After the ceremony, Rudy Blair Entertainment Media spoke with Levine about the honor, the group’s legacy and the future for one of Canada’s greatest rock groups.
Asked what the secret is to TRIUMPH‘s success, Levine said (see video below): “I think because we were the three musketeers. We never met a door that we couldn’t drive a semi through. If the door was closed, we said, ‘Fuck it! Let’s open that.’ People said, ‘You can’t do that,’ and we went, ‘Yes, we can.’ [Laughs] So, ‘no’ was never ‘no.’ ‘No, you can’t do that. It’s not done.’ And we said, ‘Oh, yes. We will.’ [Laughs] But I think we survived ’cause of our sense of humor. Not only the music and the show and all that, but I think, as a band, the laughter that we had and the fun we had together — as well as the hard work and that. But there was moments where you just wanted to go shoot somebody and somebody would come up with something and you’d be on the floor killing yourself laughing in the dressing room or in a car or on a plane or something. So, we traveled together, we lived together, we did everything together, we rocked the world together. We lived the dream, and very few people get the chance to do that.”
On the topic of how he would like TRIMUPH to be remembered, Levine said: “We touched people’s lives. We were that band with that song that somebody was considering doing something really bad to themselves, and they heard that song, or they put that song on, and it changed their life. We got fan letters to that effect and phone calls. And it’s something that you… you can’t put a price on it. If it was just one person, you did something that is magnificent in my mind.”
TRIUMPH formed in Toronto 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 their debut, “Triumph”, was released in 1976 on Attic Records. TRIUMPH‘s gift for delicate, intricate pieces and blistering rave-ups was evident on this first album. The second album, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Machine”, followed in 1977.
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 United States 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’ Roll Machine”.
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 Emmett, Levine and 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.
Back in 2016, Moore and Levine reunited with Rik as special guests on the “RES 9” album from Emmett‘s band RESOLUTION9.
After 20 years apart, Emmett, Levine and Moore played at the 2008 editions of the Sweden Rock Festival and Rocklahoma. A DVD of the historic Sweden performance was made available four years later.
Emmett has said in various interviews over the years that he would welcome the chance to play TRIUMPH songs with Moore and Levine again but that those two have been reluctant to commit. “If the carrot was big enough and golden enough, I think it would make Mike and Gil, but especially Gil, do it,” Emmett told the QMI Agency back in 2012.
Photo courtesy of Rik Emmett
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