Jeff Lynne Says Traveling Wilburys Name Story is ‘Fabrication’
Jeff Lynne described the well-known story of how the Traveling Wilburys got their name as a “fabrication,” and lamented the fact that he didn’t get the chance to work more with Roy Orbison before his death.
The ELO leader told Billboard it had been a “marvelous time” as he looked back on the 30th anniversary of the band’s debut LP, Vol. 1, which also featured George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty.
“Getting Roy Orbison in the studio, it was just magic to me,” Lynn said. “As well as doing the Wilburys at that time, I was doing three tracks for his own album [Mystery Girl]. I was just producing him, and I was knocking these tracks out between the Wilburys sessions. If there were a few hours left in the day from the end of a Wilburys session, I'd go back to work on the Roy Orbison songs. I got the privilege of recording his voice, which to me, has always been the greatest thing ever.”
He said Orbison, who died 50 days after the LP’s release, had been “one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known,” adding, “He'd come to the session, and in his car he'd have a bunch of cakes, which he wasn't supposed to have anyway, because he had a bad heart. He'd call me ‘Jeffery’ and say, ‘I’ve got some really nice cakes in the back, come and have a look.’ So he'd invite me down to the back of his car, show me them and say, ‘You can have first pick.’ I thought that was so sweet.”
He continued, “Of course, Roy died just when we finished it and the record was coming out, which was the most sickening thing to me. I was devastated for ages because of that. Me and Roy had had plans to do much more together, and his voice was in really good shape. It was just so sad for that to happen.
“I think my fondest memory is Roy Orbison singing… When he's laying it down, and I'm egging him on a little bit as the producer, just going, ‘Oh yeah, just like that!’ He was such a brilliant singer, and a lovely guy. I had all the time in the world for Roy. My favorite thing of all was being pals with Roy Orbison.”
It’s often reported that the band name came from a conversation between Harrison and Lynne about studio errors and solution “we’ll bury ‘em in the mix.” But Lynne said, “That's totally a fabrication. Somebody invented that just to make it sound good, but no, there was nothing subtle at all about The Wilburys. What you saw [was] what you got. That was it.”
ELO are nearing the end of a tour, after which Lynne intends to finish the band’s next album, which he said was “halfway through.”