Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1

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The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 17, 1988
RecordedApril–May 1988
Studio FPSHOT, Lucky Studios, Dave Stewart Studios
Genre Folk rock, country rock [1]
Label Wilbury
Producer Otis Wilbury, Nelson Wilbury
Traveling Wilburys chronology
The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1
Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3

The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 is the debut studio album by the English-American supergroup Traveling Wilburys, comprising George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty. It was released in October 1988 to commercial success and critical acclaim. [2] Although Harrison had long planned to start such a band, the project came about through happenstance. Harrison was in Los Angeles and in need of a B-side for a single from his Cloud Nine album, which resulted in the participants collaborating informally on the song "Handle with Care" at Dylan's home. Adopting alter egos as the five Wilbury brothers, they then recorded a full album, produced by Lynne and Harrison.

Supergroup (music) Band whose members were successful in prior acts

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—have been called a supergroup.

Traveling Wilburys English–American musical group

The Traveling Wilburys were an English–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, entitled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1. Following Orbison's death in December 1988, the band released a second album, which they entitled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3, in 1990.

George Harrison British musician and lead guitarist of the Beatles

George Harrison was an English musician, singer-songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Sometimes called "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 Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 was nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1989 and helped revitalise the careers of Dylan, Orbison and Petty. It has been certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

The Grammy Award for Album of the Year is presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales, chart position, or critical reception." Album of the Year is the most prestigious award category at the Grammys, having been presented since the 1st Grammy Awards in 1959. According to the 54th Grammy Awards description guide, the award is presented:

For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal or instrumental recordings. Award to the artist(s), and to the album producer(s), recording engineer(s) and/or mixer(s), and mastering engineer(s) if other than the artist.

Recording Industry Association of America Trade organization representing the recording industry in the U.S.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization that represents the recording industry in the United States. Its members consist of record labels and distributors, which the RIAA says "create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legally sold recorded music in the United States." The RIAA headquarters is in Washington, D.C.


In early April 1988, George Harrison was in Los Angeles and needed to record a B-side for a European 12-inch single. Jeff Lynne was also in Los Angeles writing and producing some tracks for Roy Orbison on his album Mystery Girl (released posthumously), as well as Tom Petty’s first solo album, Full Moon Fever . While having dinner with Lynne and Orbison, Harrison related how he needed to record a new track and wanted to do it the next day. Harrison asked if Lynne would help, and Orbison offered his old friend his hand as well, seeing how fun it would be. Needing a studio at short notice, Harrison called Bob Dylan, who agreed to let them use his garage studio. After dinner, Harrison stopped by Petty’s house to pick up a guitar he had left there, and invited Petty along too. Gathering at Dylan’s Malibu home the following day, Harrison, Lynne, Orbison and Petty worked on a song that Harrison had started writing for the occasion, "Handle with Care". At first, Dylan's role was that of a host, maintaining a barbecue to feed the musicians; at Harrison's invitation, Dylan then joined them in writing lyrics for the song. The ensemble taped the track on Dylan's Ampex recording equipment, with all five sharing the vocals. [3]

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of nearly four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood, the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast of North America.

A-side and B-side the two sides of 78, 45, and 33 1/3 rpm phonograph records and cassette tapes

The terms A-side and B-side refer to the two sides of 78, 45, and 33​13 rpm phonograph records, or cassettes, whether singles, extended plays (EPs), or long-playing (LP) records. The A-side usually featured the recording that the artist, record producer, or the record company intended to receive the initial promotional effort and then receive radio airplay, hopefully, to become a "hit" record. The B-side is a secondary recording that has a history of its own: some artists released B-sides that were considered as strong as the A-side and became hits in their own right. Others took the opposite approach: producer Phil Spector was in the habit of filling B-sides with on-the-spot instrumentals that no one would confuse with the A-side. With this practice, Spector was assured that airplay was focused on the side he wanted to be the hit side.

Jeff Lynne British rock musician

Jeffrey Lynne is an English songwriter, singer, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist 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 assumed sole leadership of the band and wrote, arranged and produced virtually all of its subsequent records. Before, Lynne was also involved with the Idle Race as a founding member and principal songwriter.

"Handle with Care" was considered too good to be used as a B-side, so Harrison decided to form a band and record another nine songs for an album. The group got together again for nine days in May, recording the basic tracks and vocals at Dave Stewart’s home studio in Los Angeles. Overdubs and mixing were carried out in England at Harrison’s home studio, FPSHOT (short for Friar Park Studio, Henley-on-Thames).

Overdubbing is a technique used in audio recording, whereby a musical passage is recorded two or more times. This practice can be found with singers, as well as with instruments, or ensembles/orchestras.

Friar Park English Victorian neo-Gothic mansion, former home of George Harrison

Friar Park is a 120-room Victorian neo-Gothic mansion in Henley-on-Thames, England, built in 1889. It was formerly owned by eccentric lawyer Sir Frank Crisp and purchased in January 1970 by musician George Harrison. The site covers about 62 acres. Features include caves, grottoes, underground passages, a multitude of garden gnomes, and an Alpine rock garden with a scale model of the Matterhorn.

Henley-on-Thames Town in Oxfordshire, England

Henley-on-Thames is a town and civil parish on the River Thames in Oxfordshire, England, 9 miles (14 km) northeast of Reading, 7 miles (11 km) west of Maidenhead and 23 miles (37 km) southeast of Oxford, near the tripoint of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. The population at the 2011 Census was 11,619.

Masquerading as the Wilbury brothers, the participants would be known as Nelson (Harrison), Otis (Lynne), Lucky (Dylan), Lefty (Orbison), and Charlie T. Jr. (Petty) Wilbury, with drummer Jim Keltner credited as Buster Sidebury. Harrison was no stranger to the use of alternate identities, as he had adopted them with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and with his plethora of pseudonyms as a session musician, including L'Angelo Misterioso, George O'Hara and Hari Georgeson. During the Beatles' first tour of Scotland, in 1960, he had used the pseudonym "Carl Harrison", in reference to one of his favourite musicians, Carl Perkins. [4] With the Traveling Wilburys, this concept was taken a step further, since the participants' real names do not appear anywhere on the album, liner notes, or the songwriting credits.

<i>Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band</i> 1967 studio album by The Beatles

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by the English rock band the Beatles. Released on 26 May 1967 in the United Kingdom and 2 June 1967 in the United States, it spent 27 weeks at number one on the UK Albums Chart and 15 weeks at number one in the US. It was lauded by critics for its innovations in production, songwriting and graphic design, for bridging a cultural divide between popular music and high art, and for providing a musical representation of its generation and the contemporary counterculture. It won four Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album of the Year, the first rock LP to receive this honour.

Carl Perkins American rockabilly musician

Carl Lee Perkins was an American singer-songwriter who recorded most notably at the Sun Studio, in Memphis, beginning in 1954. Amongst his best-known songs are 'Blue Suede Shoes', 'Matchbox' and 'Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby'.

With Harrison having the greatest claim to the band, he signed them up to Warner Bros. Records, which distributed his solo recordings, and incorporated their own Wilbury Records label, in addition to producing the sessions with Lynne that spring. Petty subsequently signed to Warner Bros. himself as a solo artist, and one of the company's subsidiaries, Reprise Records, released Lynne's solo album Armchair Theatre in 1990.

Reprise Records American record label

Reprise Records is an American record label founded in 1960 by Frank Sinatra. It is owned by Warner Music Group, and operates through Warner Records, one of its flagship labels.

<i>Armchair Theatre</i> (album) 1990 studio album by Jeff Lynne

Armchair Theatre is the first solo album by Jeff Lynne, released in 1990.


According to statements by Harrison in the documentary The True History of the Traveling Wilburys (filmed in 1988 about the making of the album and re-released on the bonus DVD included in The Traveling Wilburys Collection ), the whole band gave various contributions to all songs, although each song was mainly written by a single member; the joint songwriting credit came from the fact that giving individualized credits looked egotistical. [5]

Lynne commented that the songwriting process was relaxed and enjoyable:

We would arrive about twelve or one o'clock and have some coffee. Somebody would say, 'What about this?' and start on a riff. Then we'd all join in, and it'd turn into something. We'd finish around midnight and just sit for a bit while Roy would tell us fabulous stories about Sun Records or hanging out with Elvis. Then we'd come back the next day to work on another one. That's why the songs are so good and fresh—because they haven't been second-guessed and dissected and replaced. It's so tempting to add stuff to a song when you've got unlimited time. [6]

However, the publishing credits on the Collection book are more revealing about the actual songwriters, as each of the credited publishers belongs to a single member:

The separation was not repeated for the publishing credits of Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 , which show all songs as being published by all four publishers. [8]

Release and aftermath

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [9]
Blender Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [1]
Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s A– [10]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [11]
Entertainment Weekly A– [12]
Houston Chronicle Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svg [13]
Mojo Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [14]
Q Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [15]
Rolling Stone Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [16]
Uncut Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [17]

Released on October 18, 1988, Volume One became a surprise commercial success, reaching number 3 in the US and selling 2 million copies there within six months. The album also reached number 16 in the UK. With over 50 weeks on the US charts, The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 was later certified triple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. While Harrison and Petty had recent successes, Dylan, Orbison (who died of a sudden heart attack on December 6, 1988) and Lynne had not seen an album climb that high in several years. At the time, no Dylan album had ever achieved two million in sales. As one critic put it, it was "one of the great commercial coups of the decade". The single "Handle with Care" was a significant hit in the UK charts, peaking at number 21, and an even bigger hit in Australia (number 3) and New Zealand (number 4), though it stalled at number 45 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Most critics said the group's modest ambitions were fresh and relaxing. During 1989 and 1990 the album won many accolades, including a Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group. The album was also nominated for Album of the Year. In his book The Encyclopedia of Popular Music , Colin Larkin describes the Traveling Wilburys as "the last of the great supergroups" and writes of the band's accidental origins: "This wonderful potpourri of stars reintroduced 'having a good time' to their vocabulary and the result was not a Harrison solo album but the superb debut of the Traveling Wilburys. The outing proved to be a major success, bringing out the best of each artist; in particular, this [album] proved to be the marvellous swan song for Roy Orbison who tragically died soon afterwards." [11]

After Harrison’s distribution deal with Warner Bros. expired in 1995, ownership of the Dark Horse Records catalog as well as the two Traveling Wilburys albums reverted to Harrison and the albums went out of print. [18] On June 12, 2007, Volume One and Vol. 3 were reissued by Rhino Records as The Traveling Wilburys Collection , packaged together with bonus tracks and a DVD. The box set debuted at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart and number 9 on the US Billboard 200.

Track listing

All tracks written by Traveling Wilburys.

Side one
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."Handle with Care" George Harrison with Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan 3:19
2."Dirty World"Dylan with Harrison, Orbison, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty 3:30
3."Rattled"Lynne with Petty, Harrison and Orbison3:00
4."Last Night"Petty with Orbison3:48
5."Not Alone Any More"Orbison3:24
Side two
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
7."Heading for the Light"Harrison with Lynne3:37
8."Margarita"Dylan and Petty with Lynne3:15
9."Tweeter and the Monkey Man"Dylan5:30
10."End of the Line"Harrison, Lynne and Orbison with Petty3:30
Bonus tracks on the 2007 CD reissue
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
12."Like a Ship"Dylan3:31


Traveling Wilburys

Additional personnel



Grammy Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1990 The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal [23] Won
Album of the Year [24] Nominated

American Music Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1990 Traveling Wilburys (performer)Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist [25] Nominated



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RegionCertification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA) [47] 6× Platinum420,000^
Canada (Music Canada) [48] 6× Platinum600,000^
Germany (BVMI) [49] Gold250,000^
Sweden (GLF) [50] Gold50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland) [51] Gold25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) [52] Platinum300,000^
United States (RIAA) [53] 3× Platinum3,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

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  43. " – Jahreshitparade 1989" (ASP) (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 29, 2011.
  44. "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1989". RPM . Archived from the original on December 31, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2011.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  45. " – Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1989" (ASP). Swiss Music Charts (in Swedish). Hung Medien. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
  46. "Billboard.BIZ: Top Pop Albums of 1989". Archived from the original on July 21, 2012. Retrieved May 3, 2014.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  47. Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 284.
  48. "Canadian album certifications – Traveling Wilburys – Volume 1". Music Canada.
  49. "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Traveling Wilburys; 'Traveling Wilburys')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  50. "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden.
  51. "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Traveling Wilburys; 'Traveling Wilburys')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
  52. "British album certifications – Traveling Wilburys – Traveling Wilburys". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Traveling Wilburys in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  53. "American album certifications – Traveling Wilburys – Traveling Wilburys". Recording Industry Association of America.If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.