Traveling Wilburys –
End Of The Line
HOW THE TRAVELING WILBURYS WAS CREATED
The beauty of the Traveling Wilburys was the total spontaneity of its creation as a Rock ‘N Roll Supergroup. Back in 1988, George Harrison of Beatles fame was working on his album ‘Cloud Nine’ with co-writer and producer, Jeff Lynne of E.L.O. Harrison and Lynne had been working on ‘Cloud Nine’ for 5 years and were finishing up the album.
Traveling Wilburys – End Of The Line
Traveling Wilburys – End Of The Line
The music and lyrics came so easy for the Traveling Wilburys and they all loved working together so much that Harrison, Dylan, Petty, and Lynne agreed that they should try to complete an album. The needed to overcome two challenges:
- 1. Dylan was leaving in 10 days on tour;
- 2. they needed to convince Roy Orbison to join them. Thus, Harrison, Dylan, Petty, and Lynne drove up to Anaheim to Roy Orbison’s concert and reportedly George Harrison got on his knees after the concert to recruit Roy Orbison. Roy readily agreed.
With Harrison having the greatest claim to the band, he signed them up to Warner Bros. Records, his current label, and incorporated their own Wilbury Records label, in addition to producing the sessions with Lynne that spring.
In October 1988, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 was released, preceded by ‘Handle with Care’ as the lead single that scaled the pop charts at US #15, the album reached #16 in the UK and an impressive #3 in the US. With over 40 weeks on the charts, the album was later certified double-platinum. While Harrison and Petty had had recent successes, Dylan, Orbison 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, the Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 was “one of the great commercial coups of the decade.”
Most critics said the Traveling Wilburys’s modest ambitions were fresh and relaxing. During 1989 and 1990 the album won many accolades, not least a Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group.
Tragically, Roy Orbison suddenly died of a heart attack in December 1988, surprising much of the music industry and press. The sleeve cover for “End Of The Line”, the group’s second single, was photographed four  days after Orbison’s death. Depicting a guitar in Orbison’s rocking chair, it was taken as a tribute. As for Orbison, this album was released at the same time as his Mystery Girl album in 1989, and both their success made Orbison one of two singers (Elvis Presley being the other) to have two albums both reach the charts posthumously.
Both Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 and its unexpected 1990 follow-up Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 were deleted in the mid-1990’s with rights reverting to Harrison and his estate after his 2001 death. With all of his solo catalog having reverted to EMI after almost twenty years with Warner Bros. Records, who distributed his Dark Horse Records label, both Traveling Wilburys albums appear set to be re-issued through EMI. Tom Petty was recently quoted to have said that they would be re-released in late 2005, though nothing, as of December 2006, has come of these claims.
How the Traveling Wilburys Got Their Name
Jeff Lynne and George Harrison had been referring to the recording gremlins and glitches as Wilburys, referring to after recording editing of “we’ll bury them” in the mixing. They originally came up with Trembling Wilburys but the group decided that Traveling Wilburys was more catchy. They even made up a story about the Traveling Wilburys as nomadic minstrels who were all half-brothers with the common father of Charlie T. Wilbury.
The Traveling Wilburys band members are:
*Nelson Wilbury (George Harrison) – guitars, lead vocals, backing vocals
*Lucky Wilbury (Bob Dylan) – acoustic guitar, harmonica, lead vocals, backing vocals
*Lefty Wilbury (Roy Orbison) – acoustic guitar, lead vocals, backing vocals
*Charlie T. Jr. (Tom Petty) – acoustic guitar, lead vocals, backing vocals
*Otis Wilbury (Jeff Lynne) – bass, keyboards, guitars, lead vocals, backing vocals
*Jim Keltner – drums
*Jim Horn – saxophones
*Ray Cooper – percussion
*Ian Wallace – Tom toms on “Handle with Care”