The Traveling Wilburys was not a carefully planned band, not formed from deep premeditation. Rather, the band was created in a casual blending of genuine friends one ordinary afternoon, which turned out to be anything but ordinary. George Harrison needed a B-side song to accompany a European single release from his widely regarded Cloud Ninealbum. While in Los Angeles, George approached Jeff Lynne for help with the B-side, since he had co-produced the album. It happened that Jeff was working with Roy Orbison on the upcoming Mystery Girl album. Roy readily agreed to lend a hand in the musical effort. As fate would luckily dictate, George's guitar was at Tom Petty's house, and he too offered to join in and make some music. When the group showed up to record, Bob Dylan also lent a hand to help complete the half-finished song George had written.
George was quoted as saying, "And so everybody was there and I thought, I'm not gonna just sing it myself, I've got Roy Orbison standing there. I'm gonna write a bit for Roy to sing. And then, as it progressed, then I started doing the vocals and I just thought I might as well push it a bit and get Tom and Bob to sing the bridge." The final result was a song called "Handle With Care." George later said, "I liked the song and the way that it turned out with all these people on it so much that I just carried it around in my pocket for ages thinking, well what can I do with this thing? And the only thing to do I could think of was do another nine. Make an album."
The album they created was called the Traveling Wilburys Volume 1 - a playful nod to the reality that subsequent volumes were unlikely. Volume 1 was released in October 1988 preceded by the single "Handle With Care." The album achieved wide critical acclaim, and most critics agreed that the music was so extraordinary because of the modest ambitions of the band, which translated to a fresh and relaxing sound. Rolling Stone Magazine instantly called it one of the Top 100 Albums of all time. The album also saw commercial success; it reached No. 3 on the Album charts, garnered double-platinum status and earned the group a Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group.
In 1990, following the unexpected death of Orbison in December 1988, the remaining members reconvened to record Traveling Wilburys Volume 3, dedicating the album to Lefty (Roy) Wilbury. With Harrison and Lynne producing again, both "She's My Baby" and "Wilbury Twist" became radio hits as the album reached No. 11 in the U.S. and achieved Platinum success. Although Traveling Wilburys Volume 3 was recorded without Orbison its songs are still full of the heart and spirit that made their musical brotherhood the stuff of legend.