The Traveling Wilburys

The Biography
by Nick Thomas

The Traveling Wilburys were formed in 1988 when five rock legends joined forces for an informal recording session inside a cluttered garage in Los Angeles. The five seasoned musicians – Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison – had gathered to write and record what was intended as a throwaway B-side track.

After Harrison submitted the completed song to his record company, he was told that it was too good to be hidden away on the flip side of a European single. Instead, he was instructed to regroup with his fellow musicians and to record an entire album of songs. But for the newly formed supergroup, there was no roadmap, no detailed plan, no record company involvement and no expectation of success.

Nicknamed the Billion Dollar Quintet, the five musical legends could all speak of their own individual achievements, their own musical triumphs, as well as their own extended periods of fan indifference. Some of the members had already establishment close knit relationships, while others barely knew each other.

This book chronicles how the Traveling Wilburys were formed, what went into the making of their two hit albums and why they never toured. The book also examines how the careers and personal lives of these five men overlapped as well as how they influenced one another. Lastly, this book looks at the group’s musical legacy.

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