IF IT HAD been up to Bob Dylan the Traveling Wilburys would have been simply known as Roy And The Boys, Jeff Lynne has told MOJO.
The ELO leader speaks in the MOJO Interview in our latest issue (December 15 / #265), and in a career-spanning look back he recalls how a late night conversation led to him forming a super-group that included Bob Dylan, who really wanted to be “just one of the lads”.
“I’d been working with George Harrison on Cloud Nine for maybe two months. We would always end the night having a couple beers and [smoking] a thingy, and he said, ‘You know what? Me and you should have a group.’” Lynne tells MOJO's Bob Mehr.
“And I said, ‘Really, a group? That’d be great. Who would you have in it?’ I thought he was going to say, ‘Oh, Fred Trilby from up the road,’ or whatever, but he didn’t. He said, ‘Bob Dylan.’”
From there the recruitment process escalated quickly. “[After Bob] I said, ‘Well, can we have Roy Orbison as well?’” laughs Lynne. “Once George had said Bob Dylan, I thought, ‘Fuck, the world is my oyster.’ He said, ‘Yeah, of course we can – I love Roy.’”
When the high-end team, including Tom Petty, convened, the Traveling Wilburys sessions proceeded on a surprisingly even footing.
“George Harrison said of course we can have Roy Orbison – I love Roy.”
“I think everybody was kind of looking up to Bob. He didn’t take any leadership role, he just wanted to be one of the lads,” explains Lynne. “He actually wanted to call the band Roy And The Boys.”
Get MOJO now for the full interview, including details of the Fab Four's rivalry with Orbison, not to mention plenty more on Lynne's journey that has seen him transform from Brumbeat hopeful into Electric Light Orchestra’s sonic visionary and producer of legend.
Plus we take a closer look at Lynne’s sometime bandmate as the latest MOJO also comes with a bonus book focusing on Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series.
PHOTO: Piper Ferguson