Growing up in the heyday of MTV videos, I always considered Ric Ocasek as the leader and most important member of The Cars. “You Might Think” was one of my favorite videos, with his goofy mug floating all over the place. I had no idea what an important part all the others played until much later. Still today, though, I can’t help but think of Ocasek more than any other member when I think of the band.
The Cars’ self-titled debut album dropped in 1978 and charted the hits “Just What I Need,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” and “Good Times Roll.” Also appearing on the album are “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight,” “Bye Bye Love,” and “Moving In Stereo.” For a debut album especially, it’s pretty fantastic.
The Cars were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Saturday night, an honor that was many years overdue. The surviving members reunited to perform at the ceremony and were joined by Weezer‘s Scott Shriner on bass. The group closed their set with “Just What I Needed,” originally sung by the late Benjamin Orr.
Inducting yourself into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is kind of like wearing a band’s t-shirt to their concert, right? But that’s what happened Saturday night as bassist John Illsley congratulated himself and his Dire Straits band mates, three of whom didn’t even bother showing up, on their induction into the Cleveland institution. Mark Knopfler, David Knopfler, and Pick Williams all decided to skip the ceremony.
Joining Illsely on stage were keyboardists Alan Clark and Guy Fletcher, who also received the honor from the Rock Hall. Other former Dire Straits members Hal Lindes, Terry Williams, and Jack Sonni were shunned by the committee.
There really are a ton of great bands out there that you have probably never heard of. Rival Sons, Scorpion Child, Black Country Communion, Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown, Revolution Saints, just to name a handful. But there is one band that has absolutely overshadowed all others, and they only have eight songs recorded so far: Greta Van Fleet. The group of three brothers and a drummer released a 4-song EP earlier this year, and have added four more songs on their latest release, From The Fires,, which dropped in November. Apparently they are getting some radio airtime, and that’s great, because this is the most rock n’ roll band since Led Zeppelin.
I’m not even making a list with this post. It begins and ends with one band: Greta Van Fleet. Buy it for every headbanger on your Christmas list.
The most underrated member of the Traveling Wilburys is arguably Jeff Lynne. He is a producer extraordinaire and excellent songwriter, but was the last of the Wilburys to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His group, Electric Light Orchestra, was finally honored by the Rock Hall in 2017. The band was introduced by Dhani Harrison, also known as Ayrton Wilbury, who played the guitar solo on “Like A Ship” from the vinyl edition of The Traveling Wilburys Collection. Lynne produced George Harrison‘s 1987 album, Cloud Nine, which included the #1 hit “Got My Mind Set On You.” He also produced Roy Orbison‘s 1989 release Mystery Girl, featuring the top 40 hit, “You Got It,” and co-produced Tom Petty‘s Full Moon Fever. And of course, Lynne—or rather, Otis Wilbury—co-produced Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 with George Harrison (er, Nelson Wilbury). The Wilbury’s 1990 follow-up, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3, was produced by Clayton and Spike Wilbury (Jeff and George, respectively).
George Harrison, with the Beatles, opened for Roy Orbison in the 1960s. He brought Bob Dylan back to the stage in the 1970s. And he utilized the masterful production of Jeff Lynne in the 1980s. Where does Tom Petty fit in? Apparently, Harrison and Petty formed a friendship and were known to jam together privately. Put all five of those names together and you have the greatest supergroup of all-time. One would be hard-pressed to improve on the lineup of the Traveling Wilburys.
Like the other Wilburys, Bob Dylan‘s reputation was firmly in place long before the 1980s. His legacy was as a singer-songwriter and the voice of the late 1960s generation. Dylan joined George Harrison and friends for the epic “Concert for Bangladesh” in 1971, performing “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” with the former Beatle. The accompanying album won a Grammy for Album of the Year in 1973.
The date: 1963. The headliner: Roy Orbison. The opening act: The Beatles. Orbison was on tour in Great Britain and allowed local bands such as the Beatles and Gerry and the Peacemakers to open for him. In 1987, Bruce Springsteen inducted Orbison into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; a year later the Boss inducted Bob Dylan. Orbison teamed up with George Harrison, twenty-five years after allowing his little band to open for him in Britain, and the others in the Traveling Wilburys. The debut single and album was released on October 17, 1988.
How did the Traveling Wilburys come to exist? Over the next few days, I’ll piece together a few of the happenings that brought five legendary musicians together to form the greatest supergroup in rock history.
The first piece, Tom Petty, a.k.a. Charlie T. Wilbury, Jr. In 1988, Bob Dylan recruited Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to be his backup band during the True Confessions tour. A year later, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers release Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) album, featuring a song co-written by Dylan. Petty and his cohorts again back Bob Dylan in 1987 for his Temples in Flames tour. The following year, Petty and Dylan joined forces with Roy Orbison, Electric Light Orchestra‘s Jeff Lynne, and the Beatles‘ George Harrison to form the Traveling Wilburys.