Credit: Neil Zlozower
Triumph singer/guitarist Rik Emmett says Van Halen may have started the party too early on the day of the 1983 US Festival.
During a recent interview with Ultimate-Guitar’s Greg Prato, Emmett commented on Triumph’s appearance at the US Festival’s “Heavy Metal Day” on May 29, 1983, which saw performances from Quiet Riot, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Triumph, Scorpions, and headliners Van Halen.
When told by UG, “This year marks 40 years since Triumph’s performance at the US Festival – I was reading some comments online recently, and it seems like a lot of people feel that Triumph stole the show that day,” Emmett (who is currently promoting his autobiography, “Lay It on the Line: A Backstage Pass to Rock Star Adventure, Conflict and Triumph”) was quite candid in his reply —and also shared his memories of the day.
“First of all, there weren’t a lot of other bands that I saw – we took a helicopter in and played the show. I saw a little bit of the band in front of us – that was Judas Priest. And they sounded OK to me. It was a really hot day, and it was really dusty [the show was held at Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, California], and they were in their leather and studs and rode their Harley up on stage. I remember thinking, ‘Man. Hot day for them. Glad I don’t necessarily have to be dressed up in all that stuff.’ But they sounded OK to me.”
“And the Scorpions were after us. I saw them, and I thought they sounded really good. They sounded really tight, and they played really well. I’d never seen them before, and I even thought their harmony singing was good, and the twin guitars were killer. I always liked twin guitars – Wishbone Ash is a band that I loved when I was a teenager. So, just that twin guitar thing was outstanding. But I didn’t see a lot of the other bands.”
Emmett then addressed the claim concerning whether Triumph was the top band that day. “So, as far as ‘stealing the day’…this is what I think about that – after all these years. We were the outlier band. All these other bands were, like, really heavy. Mötley Crüe was on the rise up and they were definitely a kind of ‘live-for-today party band.’ And there was kind of a heavy quality to everybody – including the headliner, Van Halen. Who, I think the consensus was they didn’t have a great day because maybe there had been too much partying over the course of the long day – back in their pavilion and their enclave. So, by the time they got out late at night, that was not necessarily one of their better moments.”