The Petty Archives

Traveling Wilburys emergence clouded by Roy Orbison's death
By Rich Drees
The Keystone - December 9, 1988

The fictitious rock group has been a recurrent phenomena ever since the Beatles first pioneered the idea with the "Sgt. Pepper" album. More recent examples include The Blues Brothers, Spinal Tap, and Bruce Willis' forgettable Bruno Ratlinni. Now we have another group to add to the list: the Traveling Wilburys.

Who are the Traveling Wilburys you ask. Well, according to the liner notes to their album, the Wilburys are a part of "a remarkable, sophisticated musical culture." They are all brother; Charlie T. Jr., Otis, Lucky, Lefty, and Nelson.

In reality, the group consists of musical heavyweights George Harrison (Nelson), Bob Dylan (Lucky), Jeff Lynne (Otis), Tom Petty (Charlie T. Jr.) and Roy Orbison (Lefty.)

The group got started last spring when both Roy Orbison and Tom Petty were over at Jeff Lynne's house in LA. They were both working on albums which Lynne was producing. George Harrison, a mutual friend, dropped by for dinner one night and happened to mention he needed an additional track for a European EP he was working on. The others agreed to help out. George Harrison then suggested that they go over to Bob's house the next day to work on it.

"I didn't know who Bob was," says Roy Orbison. "It turned out to be Bob Dylan."

At Dylan's home studio, they recorded the track "Handle With Care," the track that went on to be the album's first single. The number came out so well that they decided to record an entire album.

"Everyone pitched in -- it was really wonderful," relates Orbison. "There was no leader as such -- we would all play rhythm guitar on everything."

The songs were written more or less as a group effort. Vocals for a song are taken by the Wilbury most responsible for the tune.

The album was produced by Otis (Jeff Lynne) and Nelson (George Harrison). They also came up with the name of the group and most of their background.

Although the Wilburys have no plans for a tour, there is reportedly a movie in the works. Orbison promises that "the whole story of the Wilburys will unfold."

Roy Orbison, world renowned Rockabilly singer, died Tuesday evening in a Nashville hospital of a massive heart attack. He was 52.

Born on April 26, 1936, Orbison scored big during the birth of rock and roll with such hits as "Crying," "Only the Lonely" and "Pretty Woman." He was currently enjoying a career comeback as a member of the all star band above.

Orbison is survived by one son. His wife died in a car accident and his other two songs perished in a house fire years ago.