Tom Petty died yesterday. He was only 66 years old. Tributes to Tom Petty are everywhere. Newspaper and magazine articles. Online. And, of course, radio stations across the country are filled with Tom Petty songs and memories.
I am a Tom Petty fan. His work with The Heartbreakers is great. I recently wrote a post about his older (and recently re-formed) group, Mudcrutch. And he has some absolutely amazing solo albums and songs. But maybe his best work was as part of the ridiculously talented supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys.
The Traveling Wilburys truly were a supergroup. George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. I mean, who would have guessed that this group of amazing singer-songwriters would get together to make music? I'm not sure of the exact answer to that. But apparently George Harrison was recording a solo album, which was being produced by Jeff Lynne (most famous for being the frontman of the Electric Light Orchestra, or ELO). Somehow, after some errors were made as part of the recording process, George Harrison said, "We'll bury 'em in the mix." And, just like that, "Wilbury" was born. And soon thereafter Harrison, Lynne and Roy Orbison met at Bob Dylan's home studio in Malibu, California, to record a song. And, only because Harrison left his guitar at Tom Petty's house and saw Tom Petty when he went to get the guitar, Tom Petty was invited to join the recording session.
But, for a better history of the group, watch this video where the Wilburys tell their own story.
The original intent was simply to record a "B" side to Harrison's This Is Love single. But the song was so good, the record company didn't want to release it just as a "B" side to a single. And the group liked recording so much together that they decided to record an entire album.
The Traveling Wilburys recorded two albums. The first, Traveling Wilburys Vol 1, was released in 1988. And the second, Traveling Wilburys Vol 3 (George Harrison's idea because he considered the bootleg version of The Traveling Wilburys' recordings to be Vol 2), was released in 1990. Both were among the best albums ever.
A few other guys recorded with The Traveling Wilburys, including most notably, Jim Keltner, who played drums on both albums. The group never toured.
Roy Orbison died of a heart attach in late 1988 when he was just 52. So he only was with the group for Vol 1. George Harrison died in 2001 from lung cancer. He was 58. And now Tom Petty has died. So three-fifths of the world's greatest supergroup ever is gone.
But they left a strong legacy. Among my favorite Traveling Wilbury songs is End of the Line. George, Jeff, Roy, and Tom all take a turn singing lead on the song. Apparently, George Harrison wrote the music for the song, and the others all contributed some lyrics.
So, here is the official music video of End of the Line, which was made after Roy Orbison died, so a picture of Roy on a rocking chair is included in the video.
Tom Petty was just 38 when this song was recorded. Rest in peace, Tom.