March 15, 2013 by T. Gregory Argall
In 1988 a new kind of rock and roll supergroup took the music industry by storm; the relaxed kind of supergroup that would just sort of meet in someone’s backyard and chat for a while. Eventually, they even recorded some songs, and thus it was that the world was introduced to The Traveling Wilburys. Collectively, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, and Tom Petty, released an album entitled, “Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1.” It was such a critical and commercial success that Roy Orbison died and they released a second album called “Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 3” because math is hard.
The albums were so well-received that plans were soon developed for a vast network of Wilbury subsets. It was going to be a new renaissance of casual supergroups. Here is just a partial list of alternate Wilburys that were ready to invade our cassette players and radios.
- Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Brown, Warren Zevon, Paul Simon, and Joe Walsh ~~ The Nomadic Wilburys
- Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Lou Reed, Cliff Richard, and Bob Geldof ~~ The Wandering Wilburys
- Michael Des Barres, Kenney Jones, Timothy B. Schmidt, Dennis DeYoung, and Dave Davies ~~ The Lost Wilburys
- Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, and Julio Iglesias ~~ The Philandering Old Wilburys
- Bonnie Raitt, Kate Bush, Pat Benetar, Sheena Easton, and Cyndi Lauper ~~ The Wilbury Sisters
- Elton John, Chubby Checker, Luciano Pavarotti, Meat Loaf, and that guy from Blues Traveler ~~ The Wider Wilburys
- David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Boy George, Grace Jones, Marilyn Manson ~~ The Gender-Bender Wilburys
- Bruce Dickinson, Ozzy Osbourne, Dee Snider, Lemmy Kilmister, and Rob Halford ~~ The Heavy Wilburys
- Bryan Adams, Neil Young, Barney Bentall, Randy Bachman, and Mike Reno ~~ The Northern Wilburys
- Billy Joel, Elton John, Bruce Hornsby, Roger Hodgson, and Joe Jackson ~~ The 88 Keys of Wilbury
- Iggy Pop, Prince, Alice Cooper, Angus Young, and Flava Flav ~~ The Wilburys Your Mother Warned You About
- Art Garfunkel, John Oats, Andrew Ridgeley, Jim Messina, and Dave Stewart ~~ The Leftover Wilburys
Sadly, in late 1990, the twenty-third incarnation of Menudo stumbled onto the world stage for about five and a half minutes, and all ideas of new musical innovation were quickly forgotten.
Damn you, Menudo, and your youthful Latin vocal rhythms. Once again you succeeded in stealing aural joy from the ears of humanity.
(Thanks to William Poulin for inspiration and collaboration.)