Traveling Wilburys

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The Traveling Wilburys
Traveling Wilburys.jpg
The Traveling Wilburys in May 1988
(top: Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty;
bottom: Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison)
Background information
Origin Los Angeles, California
Genres Folk rock, country rock, roots rock
Years active1988 (1988)–1991 (1991)
Labels Wilbury
Associated acts The Beatles, Electric Light Orchestra, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Past members George Harrison
Jeff Lynne
Tom Petty
Bob Dylan
Roy Orbison

The Traveling Wilburys (sometimes shortened to the Wilburys) were a British–American supergroup consisting of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty. Originating from an idea discussed by Harrison and Lynne during the sessions for Harrison's 1987 album Cloud Nine , the band formed in April 1988 after the five members united to record a bonus track for Harrison's next European single. When this collaboration, "Handle with Care", was deemed too good for such a limited release, the group agreed to record a full album, titled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 . Following Orbison's death in December 1988, the band released a second album, which they titled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 , in 1990.

A supergroup is a musical performing group whose members have successful solo careers, are members of other groups, or are well known in other musical professions. The term is usually used in the context of rock and pop music, but it has occasionally been applied to other musical genres. For example, The Three Tenors—composed of opera superstars José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti—or Rainbow have been called a supergroup.

Bob Dylan American singer-songwriter, musician, author, and artist

Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, author, and visual artist who has been a major figure in popular culture for six decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" (1963) and "The Times They Are a-Changin'" (1964) became anthems for the Civil Rights Movement and anti-war movement. His lyrics incorporated a wide range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defied existing conventions of popular music, and appealed to the burgeoning counterculture, such as on the six-minute single "Like a Rolling Stone" (1965).

George Harrison British musician, lead guitarist of the Beatles

George Harrison was an English musician, singer-songwriter, music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Often referred to as "the quiet Beatle", Harrison embraced Indian culture and helped broaden the scope of popular music through his incorporation of Indian instrumentation and Hindu-aligned spirituality in the Beatles' work. Although the majority of the band's songs were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, most Beatles albums from 1965 onwards contained at least two Harrison compositions. His songs for the group included "Taxman", "Within You Without You", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Here Comes the Sun" and "Something".


The project's work received much anticipation given the diverse nature of the singer-songwriters. The band members adopted tongue-in-cheek pseudonyms as half-brothers from a fictional Wilbury family of travelling musicians. Vol. 1 was a critical and commercial success, helping to revitalise Dylan's and Petty's respective careers. In 1990, the album won the Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group.

The Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal was awarded between 1980 and 2011.

Although Harrison envisaged a series of Wilburys albums and a film about the band, produced through his company HandMade, the group's final release was in February 1991. After several years of unavailability, the two Wilburys albums were reissued by the Harrison estate in the 2007 box set The Traveling Wilburys Collection . The box set included a DVD containing their music videos and a documentary on the band's formation.

HandMade Films British film production and distribution company

HandMade Films is a British film production and distribution company. Notable films from the studio include Monty Python's Life of Brian, Time Bandits and Withnail and I.

<i>The Traveling Wilburys Collection</i> 2007 box set by Traveling Wilburys

The Traveling Wilburys Collection is a box set compilation album by the British-American supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. It comprises the two studio albums recorded by the band in 1988 and 1990, with additional bonus tracks, and a DVD containing their music videos and a documentary about the group. The box set was released on 11 June 2007 by Rhino, in association with Wilbury Records.



None of this would've happened without him. It was George's band – it was always George's band and it was a dream he had for a long time. [1]

Tom Petty

George Harrison first mentioned the Traveling Wilburys publicly during a radio interview with Bob Coburn on the show Rockline in February 1988. [2] [3] When asked how he planned to follow up the success of his Cloud Nine album, Harrison replied: "What I'd really like to do next is ... to do an album with me and some of my mates ... It's this new group I got [in mind]: it's called the Traveling Wilburys, I'd like to do an album with them and then later we can all do our own albums again." [4] [nb 1] According to Jeff Lynne, who co-produced Cloud Nine, Harrison introduced the idea of the two of them starting a band together around two months into the sessions for his album, [6] which began in early January 1987. [7] When discussing who the other members might be, Harrison chose Bob Dylan and Lynne opted for Roy Orbison. [6] [8] The term "Wilbury" also originated during the Cloud Nine sessions. Referring to recording errors created by faulty equipment, Harrison jokingly remarked to Lynne, "We'll bury 'em in the mix." [2] [9] Thereafter, they used the term for any small error in performance. Harrison first suggested "the Trembling Wilburys" as the group's name; at Lynne's suggestion, they amended it to "Traveling Wilburys". [2] [nb 2]


Rockline was a nationally syndicated radio interview program hosted by Bob Coburn that was broadcast live via satellite every Monday and Wednesday night from 8:30pm-10pm PT to radio stations in the United States. Founded in 1981, it was considered to be the longest running, uninterrupted program in rock history. The main guests interviewed on the program were various musical artists of the rock genre, including both active rock artists and classic rock artists. The primary feature of the program was the ability for listeners to call live and ask questions to the guests. Several of the shows were also live performances.

<i>Cloud Nine</i> (George Harrison album) 1987 studio album by George Harrison

Cloud Nine is the 11th studio album by English musician George Harrison. The album was recorded and released in 1987 after Harrison had taken a five-year hiatus from his career as a solo artist. The hit single "Got My Mind Set on You" from this album re-established Harrison as a critically acclaimed and commercially significant recording artist. Cloud Nine was the last studio solo album of Harrison's released during his lifetime.

Jeff Lynne British rock musician

Jeffrey Lynne is an English songwriter, singer, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist from Birmingham who co-founded the rock band Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). The group formed in 1970 as an offshoot of the Move, of which Lynne was also a member. Following the departure of Roy Wood in 1972, Lynne took over ELO's leadership and wrote, arranged and produced virtually all of the band's subsequent records. Before, Lynne was also involved with the Idle Race as a founding member and principal songwriter.

During his Rockline interview, Harrison voiced his support for Dylan, [11] at a time when the latter was experiencing an artistic and commercial low point in his career. [12] Harrison and Lynne became friends with Tom Petty in October 1987, when Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers, toured Europe as Dylan's backing group. [13] [14] The friendship continued in Los Angeles later that year. [15] There, Harrison struck up a musical rapport with Petty based on their shared love of 1950s rock 'n' roll, [16] and Lynne began collaborating with Petty on what became the latter's debut solo album, Full Moon Fever , and writing songs with Orbison, Lynne's longtime musical hero, [17] for Orbison's comeback album, Mystery Girl . [18] [19] According to Petty, Harrison's dream for the Wilburys was to handpick the participants and create "the perfect little band", but the criteria for inclusion were governed most by "who you could hang out with". [20] The five musicians also bonded over a shared appreciation of the English comedy troupe Monty Python. [21] Harrison, who had worked with the members of Monty Python on various productions by his company HandMade Films since the late 1970s, particularly appreciated Orbison's gift for impersonation and his ability to recite entire sketches by the troupe. [22] [23]

Tom Petty American musician

Thomas Earl Petty was an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor. He was the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, formed in 1976. He previously led the band Mudcrutch. He was also a co-founder of the late 1980s supergroup the Traveling Wilburys.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers American rock band

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was an American rock band from Gainesville, Florida. Formed in 1976, the band originally comprised Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Ron Blair, Stan Lynch (drums), and Benmont Tench (keyboards). In 1981, Blair, weary of the touring lifestyle, departed the band. His replacement, Howie Epstein, stayed with the band for the next two decades. In 1991, Scott Thurston joined the band as a multi-instrumentalist—mostly on rhythm guitar and second keyboards. Blair returned to the Heartbreakers in 2002, the year before Epstein's death. In 1994, Steve Ferrone replaced Lynch on drums. The band is best known for the hit singles "American Girl", "Breakdown", "The Waiting", "Learning to Fly", "Refugee" and "Mary Jane's Last Dance".

Temples in Flames Tour was a concert tour by Bob Dylan. He was supported on the tour by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The tour started with two concerts in Israel and covered various European countries, culminating in four concerts at Wembley Arena in London, England.


"Handle with Care" and band formation

The band came together in April 1988, [24] when Harrison was in Los Angeles to oversee the filming of his HandMade production Checking Out . [25] At that time, Warner Bros. Records asked Harrison for a new song to serve as the B-side for the European release of his third single from Cloud Nine, "This Is Love". [26] During a meal with Lynne and Orbison, Harrison asked Lynne to help him record the track and invited Orbison to attend the session, [27] which he then arranged to take place at Dylan's garage studio in Malibu [5] since no professional studios were available at such short notice. [11] Petty's involvement came about when Harrison went to retrieve his guitar from Petty's house and invited him to attend also. [28] [29]

<i>Checking Out</i> (1989 film) 1989 film by David Leland

Checking Out is an American comedy film, made in 1989, directed by David Leland and starring Jeff Daniels.

Warner Bros. Records American record label

Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group and headquartered in Los Angeles, California. It was founded in 1958 as the recorded music division of the American film studio Warner Bros., and was one of a group of labels owned and operated by larger parent corporations for much of its existence. The sequence of companies that controlled Warner Bros. and its allied labels evolved through a convoluted series of corporate mergers and acquisitions from the early 1960s to the early 2000s. Over this period, Warner Bros. Records grew from a struggling minor player in the music industry to one of the top record labels in the world.

This Is Love (George Harrison song) 1988 single by George Harrison

"This Is Love" is a song by English rock musician George Harrison that was released on his 1987 album Cloud Nine. Harrison co-wrote the song with Jeff Lynne, who also co-produced the track. In June 1988, it was issued as the third single from Cloud Nine, peaking at number 55 on the UK Singles Chart.

Working on a song that Harrison had recently started writing, the ensemble completed the track, which they titled "Handle with Care" after a label on a box in Dylan's garage. [5] When Harrison presented the recording to Mo Ostin and Lenny Waronker of Warner Bros., the executives insisted that the song was too good to be used as a B-side. [30] [31] In Petty's recollection, Harrison and Lynne then decided to realise their idea of forming a Wilburys band, and first invited him to join before phoning Dylan, who also agreed to join. [32] That night, Harrison, Lynne and Petty drove to Anaheim to see Orbison perform at the Celebrity Theatre and recruited him for the group shortly before he went on stage. In Petty's description, Orbison performed an "unbelievable show", during which "we'd punch each other and go, 'He's in our band, too.' ... We were all so excited." [32]

Debut album

From my point of view, I just tried to preserve our relationship. I worked so hard to make sure that all the guys who were in that band, and consequently on record and film, that their friendship wasn't abused. Just to preserve our friendship – that was the underlying contribution, I think, that I was trying to do. [33]

George Harrison

The band members decided to create a full album together, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 . Video footage of the creative process was later edited by Harrison into a promotional film for Warner Bros. staff, titled Whatever Wilbury Wilbury. [24] [34] The album was recorded primarily over a ten-day period in May 1988, [35] to allow for Dylan's limited availability as he prepared for the start of what became known as his Never Ending Tour [36] [37] and for Orbison's tour schedule. [38] These sessions were held in the house of Eurythmics member Dave Stewart, in Los Angeles. [39]

The five band members sat in a circle playing acoustic guitars in Stewart's kitchen; [40] once each song's basic track had been written and recorded there (with accompaniment from a drum machine), [41] the group recorded their vocals in another room, usually after dinner each night. [42] [43] Petty recalled that, as a friend but also an avowed fan of Dylan's, Harrison felt the need to clear the air on the first day by saying to him: "We know that you're Bob Dylan and everything, but we're going to just treat you and talk to you like we would anybody else." Dylan replied: "Well, great. Believe it or not, I'm in awe of you guys, and it's the same for me." [44] While most of the songs had a primary composer, [45] all of the band members were creative equals. [36] [46] Petty later described Harrison as the Wilburys' "leader and manager", [47] and credited him with being a bandleader and producer that had a natural instinct for bringing out the best in people and keeping a recording session productive. [46] [nb 3] Petty said: "Definitely George. It was his idea, his vision … Yeah, he'd only ever been in one band [ the Beatles ]. But he was the best bandleader I ever saw. He was really good at organising things, at knowing who was best at what, delegating what to do. He had a great passion for a band." [46] Petty also recalled a subsequent discussion with Dylan when the pair were marvelling at the impact the Wilburys made and Dylan said: "Well, George is really smart. He was in the Beatles, you know." [42] </ref> As the group's producers, Harrison and Lynne directed the sessions, with Harrison often auditioning each member to decide who should sing a particular lead vocal part. [50] [51] The two producers then flew back to England; Lynne recalls that, throughout the flight, he and Harrison enthused about how to turn the sparse, acoustic-based tracks into completed recordings. [52] Overdubs and further recording took place at Harrison's studio, FPSHOT, [32] with "Sideburys" Jim Keltner (drums), Jim Horn (saxophones) and Ray Cooper (percussion). [24] Harrison described the band's sound as "skiffle for the 1990s". [53]

The album was released on 18 October 1988. [54] Distributed by Warner Bros., it appeared on the new Wilbury record label rather than on Harrison's Dark Horse label, in the interests of maintaining the group identity. [49] Over the months following the end of recording in the summer, contractual issues had been successfully negotiated between Warner's and the record companies representing Dylan, Petty, Lynne and Orbison. As was the case in 1971 when EMI prepared Harrison's multi-artist live album from the Concert for Bangladesh for release, Columbia, Dylan's label, presented the main stumbling block. [24] [nb 4] In the album credits, the "Wilburys" joke was extended further, with the band members listed under various pseudonyms and pretending to be half-brothers – sons of a fictional Charles Truscott Wilbury, Sr. [55] [56] During promotion for the album, Orbison played along with the mock history, saying: "Some people say Daddy was a cad and a bounder, but I remember him as a Baptist minister." [57] [35]

Vol. 1 was a critical and commercial success, and revitalised the careers of Dylan, Orbison and Petty. [58] As Harrison had intended, the album defied contemporary musical trends such as hip hop, acid house and synthesised pop; author Alan Clayson likens its release to "a Viking longship docking in a hovercraft terminal". [59] [nb 5] The album produced two successful singles and went on to achieve triple-platinum certification for sales in the United States. It was nominated for several awards and won the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group. Liner notes on the album cover were written by Monty Python's Michael Palin under a pseudonym. [35] Palin's essay was based on an idea by Derek Taylor, [56] who wrote an extensive fictional history of the Wilburys family that otherwise went unused. [47] Harrison planned a feature film about the band, to be produced by HandMade and directed by David Leland, but contractual problems ended the project. [61]

Orbison's death, "Nobody's Child" and Vol. 3

Roy Orbison died of a heart attack on 6 December 1988. [62] In tribute to him, the music video for the band's second single, "End of the Line", shows Orbison's guitar rocking in a chair when his vocals are heard. [63] Lynne recalled that Orbison's death in the wake of Vol. 1's success was "the most sickening thing to me". He added: "I was devastated for ages ... Me and Roy had had plans to do much more together, and his voice was in really good shape. It was just so sad for that to happen." [64] Although there was speculation in the press that Del Shannon or Roger McGuinn might join the Wilburys, the remaining members never considered replacing Orbison. [47] [65] [nb 6] Lynne later said: "We'd become this unit, we were all good pals … We always knew we were going to do another one, and now it's just the four of us." [65]

Harrison was the most active in promoting the Wilburys, carrying out interviews well into 1989. [35] He said he was "wait[ing] for all the other Wilburys to finish being solo artists" so that they could renew the collaboration. [66] By contrast, according to author Clinton Heylin, Dylan appeared to give the band little attention as he focused on re-establishing himself as a live performer before recording his 1989 album Oh Mercy . [67] [nb 7]

In March 1990, Harrison, Lynne, Petty and Dylan reunited to work on a second Wilburys album, which they intentionally misnumbered Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 . [69] It was preceded by a non-album single, a cover of "Nobody's Child", [56] which the band recorded for Olivia Harrison's Romanian Angel Appeal charity project. [69] [70] The duration of the main album sessions was again dictated by Dylan's touring schedule and limited availability. Having asked Dylan to record a lead vocal for all the songs before his departure, Harrison was then loath to replace many of the parts, resulting in a greater prominence for Dylan as a lead singer. [69] Although he ceded his own role as a lead vocalist to Dylan and to Petty, [71] Harrison took over more of the production and contributed more prominently as a lead guitarist than before. [72] Petty described the album as "a little more rough and ready, a bit more raucous" than Vol. 1, [73] while Dylan said the new songs were more developed as compositions relative to the "scraped up from jam tapes" approach to the band's debut. [69]

Vol. 3 was released on 29 October 1990. [74] It was dedicated to Orbison, as "Lefty Wilbury", the pseudonym that Orbison had used in 1988 in honour of his hero Lefty Frizzell. [75] The album met with less success than the previous one. According to Mo Ostin, the choice of album title came about through "George being George"; [9] apparently Harrison was making a wry reference to the appearance of a bootleg that served as a sort of Volume 2. [76] The album's liner notes were written by Eric Idle, another Python member, who again adopted a pseudonym. For the band's final single, "Wilbury Twist", they filmed a video in which Idle, John Candy and other comedic actors attempt to master the song's eponymous dance style. The clip was filmed in Los Angeles and completed on 28 February 1991. [77] [nb 8]

After the Wilburys

According to Jim Keltner, the decision on the group's future after Vol. 3 lay with Harrison. Keltner said that from his conversations with Lynne, Petty and Dylan, they were all keen to reunite, whereas Harrison wavered in his enthusiasm. [79] While Harrison was against the idea of touring, Petty recalled: "I kept getting down on my knees in front of George, saying, 'Please, it's so much money!" [79]

After his 1991 tour of Japan – his first series of concerts since 1974 – Harrison spoke of a possible Traveling Wilburys tour:

That would be something I'd like to experience. I've always played around in my own mind what a Wilburys tour could be. Would each person do a solo set and then do Wilburys at the end, or would we all go right on from beginning to end and make everything Wilburys? It's an intriguing thought. We could have a great band up there and the four of us could play acoustic if we wanted to. We could all sing "Blowin' in the Wind" and Bob could sing "Something". Or we could just sing our individual songs and make them Wilbury tunes, as if we'd recorded them that way. Whatever it was, we could do it.

The Wilburys tour never came about. Petty said about the Wilburys touring:

I think it would work, if we wanted to do it. I don't think we ever considered it, really. There were a lot of nights when the conversation would roll around to that. But I don't think anybody ever took it seriously. I think it would ruin it in a way. Then you're obligated to be responsible and it's not in the character of that group. It would make it very formal and that would be the wrong spirit.

Legacy and influence

One of the most amazing things ever about the Wilburys was this poles-apart thing of Roy [Orbison] and Bob Dylan. That's what I thought was wonderful – the best singer and the best lyricist, and they're both in the same group. [80]

Jeff Lynne

In the Rolling Stone Press book The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, the Traveling Wilburys are described as "the ultimate supergroup", with a line-up that represented four eras of rock music history and included "three indisputable gods" in Dylan, Harrison and Orbison. The editors also recognise the band as "the antithesis of a supergroup", however, due to the musicians' adoption of fraternal alter egos and the humour inherent in the project. [81] AllMusic managing editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine has similarly written: "It's impossible to picture a supergroup with a stronger pedigree than that (all that's missing is a Rolling Stone), but in another sense it's hard to call the Wilburys a true supergroup, since they arrived nearly two decades after the all-star craze of the '70s peaked, and they never had the self-important air of nearly all the other supergroups. That, of course, was the key to their charm …" [58] Speaking to music journalist Paul Zollo in 2004, Petty agreed that humour and self-effacement had been key factors in the Wilburys' success, adding: "We wanted to make something good in a world that seemed to get uglier and uglier and meaner and meaner … And I'm really proud that I was part of it. Because I do think that it brought a little sunshine into the world." [82]

Harrison said the project was an opportunity to "put a finger up to the rules" by challenging the norms associated with the music industry. [21] Discussing the Wilburys in Peter Bogdanovich's 2007 documentary Runnin' Down a Dream , Petty said that one of the strengths behind the concept was that it was free of any intervention from record company, management or marketing concerns, and instead developed naturally from a spirit of co-operation and mutual admiration among five established artists. [42] Author Simon Leng recognises the venture as primarily a channel through which Harrison and Dylan could escape the restrictions of their serious media images, but also, in its guise as a "phantom band", a development by Harrison of the Rutles' satirical approach to the Beatles' legacy, in this case by "de-mythologizing" rock history. [83]

Inspired by the Traveling Wilburys' success and particularly its benefit to Petty and Orbison as artists, Lenny Waronker encouraged American guitarist Ry Cooder to form the band Little Village and record for Warner Bros. [84] The group, comprising Cooder, Keltner, John Hiatt and Nick Lowe, released a self-titled album in 1992. [85] Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune described the Notting Hillbillies' Missing ... Presumed Having a Good Time as a Traveling Wilburys-type side project for Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. [86] Writing in New York magazine in late 1990, Elizabeth Wurtzel cited the Notting Hillbillies' album and the self-titled debut by Hindu Love Gods (a band consisting of Warren Zevon and members of R.E.M.) as examples of a trend whereby, following the Wilburys' Vol. 1, "more and more albums seem to be the rock-and-roll equivalents of bowling night." [87]

Writing in The Encyclopedia of Popular Music , Colin Larkin cites the Wilburys' contemporary skiffle as evidence of Lonnie Donegan's continued influence on popular music long after the early 1960s. [88] In his book Lonnie Donegan and the Birth of British Rock & Roll, Patrick Humphries describes the Wilburys as "a makeshift quintet whose roots were firmly and joyously planted in low-key, low-tech skiffle music". He credits the band with inspiring a brief revival of Donegan's "DIY skiffle", which included Knopfler's Notting Hillbillies. [89] Each member of the Traveling Wilburys has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, although the band itself has not been inducted. Orbison and Dylan were inducted as solo artists, Harrison was inducted as a member of the Beatles and, posthumously, as a solo artist, Petty as the leader of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Lynne as a member of the Electric Light Orchestra. [90]

Catalogue reissue and Genesis Publications book

The whole experience was some of the best days of my life, really, and I think it probably was for us all ... The thing I guess would be hardest for people to understand is what good friends we were. It really had very little to do with combining a bunch of famous people. It was a bunch of friends that just happened to be really good at making music. [91]

– Tom Petty in The True History of the Traveling Wilburys

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the two Traveling Wilburys albums had limited availability and were out of print in most areas. Harrison, as primary holder of the rights, did not reissue them before his death. In June 2007, the two albums were reissued as The Traveling Wilburys Collection , a box set including both albums on CD (with bonus tracks) and a DVD featuring a 25-minute documentary titled The True History of the Traveling Wilburys and a collection of music videos. The box set was released in three editions; the standard edition, with both CDs and DVD in a double Digipak package and a 16-page booklet; a "deluxe" boxed edition with the CDs and DVD and an extensive 40-page booklet, artist postcards, and photographs; or a "deluxe" boxed edition on vinyl. This version omits the DVD, but adds a 12-inch vinyl disc with rare versions of the songs.

The release debuted at number 1 in the UK [92] and topped the albums chart in Australia, [93] Ireland [94] and other countries. [95] On the US Billboard 200 it reached number 9. The collection sold 500,000 copies worldwide during the first three weeks and remained in the UK top 5 for seven weeks after its release.

In November 2009, Genesis Publications, a company with which Harrison had been associated since the late 1970s, [96] announced the release of a limited edition fine-bound book titled The Traveling Wilburys. [97] Compiled by Olivia Harrison, [98] the book includes rare photographs, recording notes, handwritten lyrics, sketches, [21] [99] and first-hand commentary on the band's history, together with a foreword by Lynne. [97] Petty, Lynne, Olivia Harrison, Barbara Orbison, Keltner and Idle were among those who attended the US launch at a Beverly Hills bookshop in March 2010. [100] In an interview to publicise the book, Lynne expressed his sadness at the deaths of Harrison and Orbison, and reflected: "The Wilburys was such a wonderful band, such a marvellous thing to be part of. They were the best people I could ever wish to work with. Every day was like, 'Wow!' ... it was fun from day one." [98]


Volume 1
Volume 3

Jim Keltner, the session drummer and percussionist, was not listed as a Wilbury on either album. However, he is seen in all of the group's music videos, and on the DVD released in 2007, he is given the nickname "Buster Sidebury". Overdubs to the bonus tracks "Maxine" and "Like a Ship" also credited as "Ayrton Wilbury", a pseudonym for Dhani Harrison. The name Ayrton was used in honour of F1 racer Ayrton Senna. [101] Jim Horn played saxophone on both albums. The lead guitar on the Volume 3 song "She's My Baby" was played by rock guitarist Gary Moore ("Ken Wilbury"). [102]


Studio albums

TitleDetailsPeak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1
  • Release date: 17 October 1988
  • Label: Wilbury Records
  • Formats: CD, vinyl, cassette
Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3
  • Release date: 29 October 1990
  • Label: Wilbury Records
  • Formats: CD, vinyl, cassette

The Traveling Wilburys contributed the title track, "Nobody's Child", to the Romanian Angel Appeal benefit album Nobody's Child: Romanian Angel Appeal , released on 24 July 1990. Harrison appeared as Nelson Wilbury on Warner Bros. Records' 1988 holiday promo album Winter Warnerland (which also included Paul Reubens as "Pee Wee Wilbury"). In his capacity as producer, Harrison credited himself as "Spike and Nelson Wilbury" on his 1992 live album Live in Japan . The same year, the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers single "Christmas All Over Again" contained a greeting that read "Merry Christmas from Nelson and Pee Wee Wilbury."

Box sets

TitleDetailsPeak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
The Traveling Wilburys Collection
  • Release date: 11 June 2007
  • Label: Wilbury Records
  • Formats: CD, vinyl, music download


YearSinglePeak chart positionsAlbum
US Main
1988"Handle with Care"321242145230Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1
1989"End of the Line"12814115263228
1990"Nobody's Child"944 Nobody's Child: Romanian Angel Appeal
"She's My Baby"4530792Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3
"Inside Out"5016
1991"Wilbury Twist"8646
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Other charted songs

YearSinglePeak chart positionsAlbum
US Main [123]
1988"Last Night"5Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1
1989"Tweeter and the Monkey Man"41
"Heading for the Light"7

Collaborations between members

1963 Roy Orbison/The Beatles Tour
1970"I'd Have You Anytime"HarrisonDylan
1970 New Morning sessionsDylanHarrison
1971 The Concert for Bangladesh HarrisonDylan
1985 Porky's Revenge! soundtrackHarrison covered Dylan's "I Don't Want to Do It"
1986"Band of the Hand" Bob Dylan with the Heartbreakers Petty
1987"Jammin' Me" Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Dylan
1988 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame VariousDylan, Harrison & others sing "All Along the Watchtower"
1989 Mystery Girl OrbisonHarrison, Lynne, Petty
Full Moon Fever PettyHarrison, Lynne, Orbison
"Cheer Down"HarrisonLynne, Petty
1990Work It Out Jim Horn Harrison, Lynne, Petty
Armchair Theatre LynneHarrison, Petty
Under the Red Sky DylanHarrison
A Tribute to John LennonVarious (Ringo Starr)Lynne, Petty
1991 Back from Rio Roger McGuinn Petty, Lynne
Into the Great Wide Open Tom Petty and the HeartbreakersLynne
Rock On! Del Shannon Lynne, Petty [125]
1992 The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration DylanHarrison, Petty
"Christmas All Over Again" Tom Petty and the HeartbreakersLynne
King of Hearts Orbison
1995"Free as a Bird" The Beatles
1996"Real Love"
Songs and Music from "She's the One" Tom Petty and the HeartbreakersHarrison
2001 Zoom Electric Light Orchestra
2002 Brainwashed HarrisonLynne
Concert for George VariousLynne & Petty cover some of Harrison's songs
2006 Highway Companion PettyLynne
2012 Long Wave LynneLynne covered Orbison's song "Running Scared"


  1. Harrison also stated his intention to form such a band in March 1988, in response to a suggestion from television show host Michael Aspel that he should "get a bunch of oldies together". [5]
  2. When promoting the Wilburys in October 1988, Harrison joked that the inspiration for the band's formation and their name came originally from Prince Charles, who was impressed with Harrison and Lynne's performance at the Prince's Trust Concert in June 1987. [10]
  3. In music journalist Neil Staunton's description, "Harrison is acknowledged as the de facto chief Wilbury", [48] while Lynne biographer John Van der Kiste describes the Wilburys as "in effect George's group". [49] In a 2009 interview for Mojo , in response to Mat Snow's question "In a band of bandleaders, who was the alpha Wilbury?",<ref name='Snow/Mojo'>Snow, Mat (October 2009). "Tom Petty". Mojo . Available at Rock's Backpages (subscription required).
  4. One of the record company executives reluctantly agreed, conceding that he did not want to be the person blocking the Wilburys venture and "standing in the way of history being made". [35]
  5. According to Harrison's neighbour and fellow musician Joe Brown, he identified the Wilburys as a skiffle band. Brown added: "That track 'Rattled', that's a real skiffle thrash-up; it sounds like a washboard, but it's Jim Keltner playing all the grilles on the fridge in George's kitchen." [60]
  6. Carl Perkins, Robbie Robertson and Gene Pitney were among the other musicians rumoured to be the new fifth Wilbury. [63]
  7. When commenting on Dylan's absence from promoting Vol. 1, Harrison said: "He has no qualms about taking 20% of the royalties but he doesn't do [the] interviews." [68]
  8. For its inclusion in the 2007 box set The Traveling Wilburys Collection , the video was re-edited to favour footage of the group miming to the song, with only minimal footage of the guest actors. [78]

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