Everything about the creation of the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys, I love. From the website comes a story I already knew.
George Harrison was asked by the folks at Warner Brothers Records to put together a non-album B-side for a single from the ex-Beatles’ album Cloud Nine.
Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison had shared dinner, then went to Bob Dylan’s home studio in Malibu, California. George had left a guitar at Tom Petty’s house, and when he went to retrieve it, he invited Petty to join in the fun.
Harrison played the resulting track, Handle with Care, to the WB brass, who thought the song was too good to bury on the flip side of George’s single. Maybe it could become part of an album?
The five frontmen took on the persona of the Traveling Wilburys from this: “Referring to recording errors created by some faulty equipment, Harrison jokingly remarked to Lynne, ‘We’ll bury ’em in the mix’ Thereafter, they used the term for any small error in performance… Harrison suggested ‘The Trembling Wilburys’ as the group’s name; instead, Lynne suggested ‘Traveling’, with which the group agreed.”
The album was very well received, and won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group in 1989. Unfortunately, “Roy Orbison died of a heart attack on December 6, 1988… Despite Orbison’s death, the remaining group members recorded a second and final studio album, which they intentionally misnumbered Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3. It was released on October 30, 1990, and met with less success than the previous one.”
I had thought the Volume 3 was a function of all the collaborations among them, but it was an acknowledgement of bootlegs of the original sessions featuring songs not on that first album.
The group talked about touring, but it never happened. I had heard rumors of Del Shannon replacing Orbison, but he died February 8, 1990.
The two albums were out of print for about a decade, until they were rereleased, with added tracks, in 2007, including Nobody’s Child, the title track for a benefit album. “The project was organized by Olivia Harrison, who created the Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation with the other wives of The Beatles (Barbara Bach, Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney) in April 1990.”
1988 “Handle with Care” (US 45, AUS 3, NZ 4, UK 21)
1989 “End of the Line” (US 63, AUS 12, NZ 11, UK 52)
1990 “Nobody’s Child” (NZ 9, UK 44)
1990 “She’s My Baby” (AUS 45, CAN 30, UK 79)
1991 “Wilbury Twist” (CAN 86)