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.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers‘ self-titled debut was released in November, 1976, by Shelter Records. The first single, “Breakdown,” was a Top 40 hit, and has been covered in the studio by Grace Jones and Suzi Quatro, and by numerous artists in concert, including the Replacements and Foo Fighters. The band then released “American Girl,” which unbelievably did not chart in the United States until it was re-released in 1994. The song was used in several films, including FM, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and The Silence of the Lambs.
Tom Petty was an iconic songwriter, with fans young and old. I love Tom Petty’s music, but his last album I really heard was Songs and Music from “She’s the One” from 1996. I have no doubt that I would love everything else he recorded in the past 20 years, but I never felt compelled to seek it out. Regardless of my own negligence of his recent craft, his impact on the world of music was huge. Artists from genres as diverse as country to horror punk have covered Tom Petty songs. Here are some of the best that I have tracked down.
JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Tom Petty covered edition
- “Breakdown” (Suzi Quatro, If You Knew Suzi)
- “Free Fallin'” (John Mayer, Where The Light Is: John Mayer Live In Los Angeles)
- “I Won’t Back Down” (Johnny Cash, American III: Solitary Man)
- “Here Comes My Girl” (Relient K, is for Karaoke)
- “Runnin’ Down a Dream” (Wedensday 13, Bloodwork)
- “You Wreck Me” (Taking Back Sunday, Covered, A Revolution in Sound)
- “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (Dave Stewart & His Rock Fabulous Orchestra, The Dave Stewart Songbook, Vol. 1)
- “American Girl” (Matthew Sweet, High School Reunion: A Tribute to Those Great 80s Films)
- “I Need To Know” (Middle Class Rut, Pick Up Your Head [vinyl])
- “Refugee” (The Chipmunks, Chipmunk Punk)
- “Stop Draggin’ My Car Around” (Weird Al Yankovic, Weird Al Yankovic)
(October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017)
Iconic classic rocker Tom Petty has passed away. He suffered a cardiac incident and was rushed to the hospital Sunday night. After LAPD inadvertently released incomplete information to media sources Monday afternoon, it has now been confirmed that Petty passed at UCLA-Santa Monica Medical Center.
I loved Tom Petty and I covered his songs because I wanted know what it felt like to fly.
“you belong somewhere you feel free.”
— John Mayer (@JohnMayer) October 2, 2017
No! We have lost Tom Petty. From our opening act in the seventies to becoming a brilliant songwriter and performer I have loved his music. pic.twitter.com/yhyPCfm2l6
— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) October 2, 2017
Way too young…Rest In Peace Tom…. You’ll always be remembered as a Giant pic.twitter.com/OBDdtdKBgk
— DOUG ALDRICH (@Douglas_Aldrich) October 2, 2017
Praying for all those affected by Vegas last night.
And now the loss of one of my great influences Tom Petty today.
— Bon Jovi (@BonJovi) October 2, 2017
Musicians touch people in different ways . Tom made me feel happy . I choose happy . Rest easy Tom Petty . https://t.co/hmLBDmmpeU
— Tracii Guns☮ (@traciiguns) October 2, 2017
So sorry to hear we lost Tom Petty..thank you for the music, your time here brought much joy to the world…rest in peace. 😦
— Shawn Duncan (@sduncandrums) October 2, 2017
R.I.P. Tom Petty! Wow! Just, wow!!!
— Rikki Rockett (@RikkiRockett) October 2, 2017
Just when I thought today could not get any worse…
R.I.P. Tom Petty. Thank you for your beautiful music and inspiration.
— Kid Rock (@KidRock) October 2, 2017
Tom Petty memory: I'm 14. "Refugee" blaring on stereo. Mom yells up stairs. "Do you really like that music?"
Yes, mom, I do.#RIPTomPetty
— NightOwlCards (@nightowlcards) October 2, 2017
Tom Petty gone? That’s just so wrong. What a bad day this has been, in so many ways.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) October 2, 2017
One of the greatest American rock bands of all time, Aerosmith raised the bar for hard rockers in the 1970s and shocked the music world with a massive comeback in the late 1980s. More than three years ago, I gave the band the “Ultimate Mixtape” treatment, picking my favorite song from each album released by the group.
Countless artists have offered up their renditions of the Bad Boys of Boston’s greatest hits. In this Ultimate Mixtape, I will attempt to collate some of the greatest and most interesting Aerosmith songs covered by other bands. I’m sticking only to officially released songs, and my personal preference is to avoid live versions. While tribute albums are fair game, only one song per tribute is allowed on this compilation. Further, no artists will be duplicated, and each song will only be represented once. So hit play on the YouTube videos below, click the links to buy some records, and rock out like you’ve never rocked out before!
JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Aerosmith covered edition
- “Walk This Way” (Run DMC, Raising)
- “Sweet Emotion” (Leo Kottke and Mike Gordon, Sixty Six Steps)
- “Dream On” (Ronnie James Dio and Yngwie Malmsteen, Not The Same Old Song & Dance)
- “Toys in the Attic” (R.E.M., Dead Letter Office)
- “Same Ol’ Song and Dance” (Black ‘n Blue, Without Love)
- “Seasons of Wither” (Tesla, Real to Reel, Vol. 2)
- “Draw the Line” (Testament, Signs of Chaos: The Best of Testament)
- “Back in the Saddle” (Sebastian Bach featuring Axl Rose, Angel Down)
- “Rock in a Hard Place (Cheshire Cat)” (Puny Human, Revenge is Easy)
- “SOS (Too Bad)” (Eric Singer Project, ESP)
- “Fever” (Garth Brooks, Fresh Horses)
- “Cryin'” (Otis Clay, Sweet Emotion: Songs of Aerosmith – Blues on Fire)
- “Living in the Fridge” (Weird Al Yankovic, Alapalooza)