George Harrison’s Supergroup That Revitalized Bob Dylan’s Career
George Harrison, perhaps, had all the things a rocker might wish to have. He had a popular band called the Beatles, significant commercial successes, international tours, and an audience in total awe of him. Nothing could get better than that, right? Well, really, no. As the Beatles started to get more and more successful, it became evident that there was trouble in paradise.
Harrison loved working with his friends, but as time went on, Paul McCartney’s ego started to annoy him, and he wasn’t as good friends with his LSD buddy, John Lennon, as they used to be. He had nothing against Ringo, though, so that was all good. Still, after a while, George famously decided to walk out of a recording session and departed his beloved band.
His love for working with friends remained, though. So, it wasn’t much surprise when he and his mates decided to form another band. Bob Dylan was among his mates whose commerciality and career weren’t going as well as they used to. So, as the band took on the mission of making good music, they ultimately saved Dylan’s career.
Harrison’s solo record, ‘Cloud Nine,’ was met with commercial success, so all was good in the commerciality department for George Harrison. However, for good old Bob, things weren’t going well. The rocker was going through a financially and commercially challenging time as his records didn’t sell as much as they used to
His record, 1986’s ‘Knocked Out Loaded’ became the first album after his ’62 debut that didn’t enter the Top 50 charts. His other works didn’t receive much publicity as well, so Dylan was in a bit of trouble. However, in the late ’80s, as Harrison wrapped up recording ‘Cloud Nine,’ some of his friends helped the former Beatle record the album’s B-side.
These friends included Jeff Lynn, Ray Orbison, Tom Petty, and, last but not least, Bob Dylan. After working so well together, Harrison thought it would be great to form the Traveling Wilburys supergroup. The name reportedly originated from an inside joke George had made while in the studio for ‘Cloud Nine,’ as he said he ‘will bury’ the errors while recording some of the tracks (nice pun, George).
“What I’d really like to do next is to do an album with me and some of my mates,” Harrison had said as he discussed the possibility of forming a band in ’87. “It’s this new group I got [in mind]: it’s called the Traveling Wilburys; I’d like to do an album with them, and then later, we can all do our own albums again.”
His wish was granted when they recorded an album, ‘Vol I.,’ and the project achieved commercial success; it also helped revitalize Bob Dylan’s failing career and set the scene for Tom Petty to release his first solo record. The band then recorded two other albums but wasn’t as successful as the debut.
However, in the end, all was good as George got to work with his pals on this project and made Bob Dylan relevant again. Their journey ended when Orbison died in the late ’80s, but they remained on good terms and went on to release a few other works before going their separate ways.