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.
I’m still processing the news from last Thursday. Chris Cornell, lead singer of one of the greatest bands ever from Seattle (sit down, Nirvana, you’re not even in this conversation), allegedly took his own life after a concert in Detroit Wednesday night. Soundgarden was scheduled to play several shows through the end of this month, and was reportedly halfway through writing songs for a new album.
You never know what is going through someone’s mind, even when they are seemingly sitting on top of the world. Please, friends, take care of yourselves emotionally. If you are struggling, seek assistance. Every prescription does not affect every person the same way, and the side effects are more pronounced in some. Work closely with your doctor to get things straightened out, get on the medication (if that’s necessary) that works best for you, and don’t ignore the warnings.
Another 2017 Rock Hall inductee gets the “fun card” treatment today…one of my more recent obsessions, Electric Light Orchestra.
The group’s debut album was released in 1971 in the UK, 1972 in the USA, featuring former members of The Move. Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan were with the group until 1986, when Lynne disbanded ELO and Bevan formed ELO Part II. Roy Wood recorded only the first album, leaving in 1972 to form Wizzard.
Richard Tandy joined the group in 1972, making his recording debut on the 1973 album, ELO 2 (not to be confused with Bevan’s offshoot, ELO Part II). He continues to tour with Lynne today. Wilfred Gibson lasted two albums, while Mike de Albuquerque appeared on ELO 2, On the Third Day, and Eldorado.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognized only Lynne, Wood, Bevan, and Tandy, though many others contributed to their success over the years. Lynne, Wood, and Tandy were present at the induction ceremony last month; Bevan, who has reportedly not spoken to Lynne in decades, was playing a gig elsewhere. Personally, I think I would have rescheduled that gig.
“Mr. Blue Sky,” originally on 1977’s Out of the Blue, is featured on this year’s soundtrack of the year, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2.
It is very possible you have never heard anything from the first three Journey albums. It was not until Steve Perry joined the group in 1978 that Journey really took off, combining pop sensibilities with well-crafted rock songs. The first three albums had a more progressive slant to them, and are not as commercially accessible as the later radio friendly albums.
The debut self-titled album featured Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie, who worked together on Carlos Santana‘s Santana III and Caravanserai. They were joined by bassist Ross Valory as well as drummer Aynsley Dunbar, who worked with Frank Zappa, David Bowie, and Lou Reed. Also with the group for the first album was guitarist George Tickner. It was not until 1978’s Infinity that Steve Perry came on board, and songs like “Lights,” “Feeling That Way,” and “Wheel In The Sky,” caught the attention of radio programmers.
Journey’s 1981 album, Escape, was the first to feature keyboardist/rhythm guitarist Jonathan Cain. Some of the group’s biggest songs came from this album, including the all-time classics, “Don’t Stop Believin'” and “Open Arms.”
The Night Owl raved last night about music trading cards. And he showed off some cards he received from a reader, some from the early 1990s and some from the late 1970s. I have a few music cards in my collection as well, but I don’t believe I own any of the early 1990s “Rock Cards” that Night Owl flaunted. While the card designs (if you want to call them designs) aren’t attractive, the subjects are perfect for headbangers. From Slaughter to Poison to Skid Row…I would have loved these cards back in the day.
Forget “back in the day.” I would love these cards today. Though I would hope they could hire a better graphic designer.
But what I would love even more is for Topps to do something like this…
Van Halen’s first album was released in 1978, so I put the foursome’s mugshots on a 1978 Topps rookie card. This is the kind of set I would like to see, and maybe Topps can make it happen. Maybe they can sign some of my hair metal favorites to contracts and produces an Archives-style music trading card set. Members of Mötley Crüe on 1982-style cards, KISS on a 1974-style cards (like this), Winger on 1988-style cards. That’s a set I would collect.
How about it Topps?