A Supergroup, originally formed as a joke, by Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and George Harrison.
After George Harrison's album Cloud Nine was completed, George found himself having to create a bonus track for the European release of "When We Was Fab". Since Jeff Lynne had played an important part in the creation of George's album, including appearing in the "When We Was Fab" music video (along with Ringo Starr), Jeff postponed his other projects: work on Roy Orbison's album Mystery Girl, and his work on tracks for Tom Petty.
Then, George and Roy met up and Roy offered to sing on his new track...and then Bob Dylan asked if he could lend a hand, since he was an old friend, and also had just been backed by Tom Petty. And then one thing just led to another...
The Travelling Wilburys' first album, Volume One was completed over the summer of 1988. Most of the composing took place at the house of Dylan's then producer, Dave Stewart. Nourished by a continuous flow of ideas, George's team would "assemble after breakfast at about one in the afternoon, and just sit around with acoustic guitars - then someone would have a title or a chord pattern and we'd let it roll."
The word "wilbury" had been an inside joke during Cloud Nine, referring to studio gremlins. First, 'The Trembling Wilburys' was suggested as a name when, remembered Lynne, he and George had "this fantasy idea. We'd start inventing a group that would have all our favourite people." Ultimately the vote went to Travelling.
George had the idea of them to play "Masquerading as half brothers sired by the same father - Charles Truscott Wilbury, Senior" - the five appeared under their chosen pseudonyms:
Lucky Wilbury: Bob Dylan
Otis Wilbury: Jeff Lynne
Charlie T. Jr.:Tom Petty
Lefty Wilbury: Roy Oribison
Nelson Wilbury: George Harrison
that's sort of weird, but just so you know, The Spice Girls (insert shudder here) did not come up with this idea first.
The Travelling Wilburys went on to record Volume Three, but their time was tragically cut short in December 1988 when Roy Orbison died of a heart attack.