The Traveling Wilburys

Almost 20 years after they formed and with two band members dead, super group The Traveling Wilburys have scored their first UK number one album.

Made up of legendary musicians George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, The Traveling Wilburys never made it past number 14 on the album charts when they were recording in the late Eighties and early Nineties.


Now with Harrison and Orbison dead and Dylan, Lynne and Petty having long ceased playing together, their music has shot past Kaiser Chiefs, Queens of the Stone Age and perennial chart-toppers Arctic Monkeys to land at number one.

The release of The Traveling Wilburys Collection last week sparked the renewed interest in the band.

The collection has already sold 100,000 copies and is also at number one in Ireland and Australia. And while Orbison never lived to see the digital age, his vocals have helped push the album to the top of the UK iTunes chart as well as the official chart.

Interest in The Traveling Wilburys Collection has been heightened by new video footage of the band. As well as the group’s two albums, curiously named The Traveling Wilburys Volume 1 and The Traveling Wilburys Volume 3, the collection includes previously unreleased documentary footage of the band, shot by Harrison.

On hearing the collection had entered the charts at number one, George Harrison’s wife Olivia Harrison, who produced the video documentary, said: “Here’s to George, Roy and the Boys, my favourite guys. Congratulations Wilburys.”

Thanks to new rules governing the singles charts, individual Traveling Wilburys tracks are also getting a second shot at the record books. Until January this year, digital downloads were only counted towards the single chart’s results if a physical single had been released. Rule changes mean no CD single is now required, giving re-released golden oldies the chance to compete against new music. Today Traveling Wilburys’ track Handle With Care sat at number 81, sandwiched between Amy Winehouse and Pink, while End of the Line hit number 94.

The Traveling Wilburys formed by accident when Harrison approached Lynne for help creating the B-side for one of his singles. Lynne was working with Roy Orbison on the upcoming Mystery Girl album and got him involved. In another twist, Harrison’s guitar was at Tom Petty’s house and Petty offered to join in. When the group showed up to record, Dylan offered to lend a hand completing the half-finished song Harrison had written.

They enjoyed working together so much that they went on to record a full album, finishing it just before Orbison died suddenly in December 1988. The remaining band members regrouped in 1990 and made a second album.

This week’s release was the band’s first in a decade.

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