Country rock is a subgenre of popular music, formed from the fusion of rock and country. It was developed by rock musicians who began to record country-flavored records in the late-1960s and early-1970s. These musicians recorded rock records using country themes, vocal styles, and additional instrumentation, most characteristically pedal steel guitars. Country rock began with artists like Bob Dylan, the Byrds, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons and others, reaching its greatest popularity in the 1970s with artists such as Emmylou Harris, the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Michael Nesmith, Poco and Pure Prairie League. Country rock also influenced artists in other genres, including the Band, Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Rolling Stones, and George Harrison's solo work. It also played a part in the development of Southern rock.
|Cultural origins||Late 1960s and early 1970s, Southern and Western United States|
Rock and roll has usually been seen as a combination of rhythm and blues and country music, a fusion particularly evident in 1950s rockabilly. There has also been cross-pollination throughout the history of both genres; however, the term “country-rock” is used generally to refer to the wave of rock musicians of the late 1960s and early 1970s who began recording rock songs with country themes, vocal styles, and additional instrumentation, most characteristically pedal steel guitars. John Einarson states, that "[f]rom a variety of perspectives and motivations, these musicians either played rock & roll attitude, or added a country feel to rock, or folk, or bluegrass, there was no formula".
Country influences can be heard on rock records through the 1960s, including the Beatles' 1964 recordings "I'll Cry Instead", "Baby's in Black" and "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party", the Byrds' 1965 cover version of Porter Wagoner's "Satisfied Mind", on the Rolling Stones "High and Dry" (1966), as well as Buffalo Springfield's "Go and Say Goodbye" (1966) and "Kind Woman" (1968). According to The Encyclopedia of Country Music, the Beatles' "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party", their cover of the Buck Owens country hit "Act Naturally" and their 1965 album Rubber Soul can all be seen "with hindsight" as examples of country rock. In 1966, as many rock artists moved increasingly towards expansive and experimental psychedelia, Bob Dylan spearheaded the back-to-basics roots revival when he went to Nashville to record the album Blonde on Blonde, using notable local musicians like Charlie McCoy. This, and the subsequent more clearly country-influenced albums, John Wesley Harding (1967) and Nashville Skyline (1969), have been seen as creating the genre of country folk, a route pursued by a number of, largely acoustic, folk musicians.
Dylan's lead was also followed by the Byrds, who were joined by Gram Parsons in 1968. Parsons had mixed country with rock, blues and folk to create what he called "Cosmic American Music". Earlier in the year Parsons had released Safe at Home (although the principal recording for the album had taken place in mid-1967) with the International Submarine Band, which made extensive use of pedal steel and is seen by some as the first true country-rock album. The result of Parsons' brief tenure in the Byrds was Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968), generally considered one of the finest and most influential recordings in the genre. The Byrds continued for a brief period in the same vein, but Parsons left soon after the album was released to be joined by another ex-Byrds member Chris Hillman in forming the Flying Burrito Brothers. Over the next two years they recorded the albums The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969) and Burrito Deluxe (1970), which helped establish the respectability and parameters of the genre, before Parsons departed to pursue a solo career.
Country rock was a particularly popular style in the California music scene of the late 1960s, and was adopted by bands including Hearts and Flowers, Poco (formed by Richie Furay and Jim Messina, formerly of the Buffalo Springfield) and New Riders of the Purple Sage. Some folk-rockers followed the Byrds into the genre, among them the Beau Brummels and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. A number of performers also enjoyed a renaissance by adopting country sounds, including: the Beatles, who re-explored elements of country in their later albums, like "Rocky Raccoon" and "Don't Pass Me By" from their eponymous "White Album" (1968), and "Octopus's Garden" from Abbey Road (1969); the Everly Brothers, whose Roots album (1968) is usually considered some of their finest work; former teen idol Ricky Nelson who became the frontman for the Stone Canyon Band; John Fogerty, who left Creedence Clearwater Revival behind for the country sounds of the Blue Ridge Rangers(1972); Mike Nesmith, who had experimented with country sounds while with the Monkees, formed the First National Band; and Neil Young who moved in and out of the genre throughout his career. One of the few acts to successfully move from the country side towards rock were the bluegrass band the Dillards.
The greatest commercial success for country rock came in the 1970s, with the Doobie Brothers mixing in elements of R&B, Emmylou Harris (a former backing singer for Parsons) becoming the "Queen of country-rock" and Linda Ronstadt creating a highly successful pop-oriented brand of the genre. Pure Prairie League, formed in Ohio in 1969 by Craig Fuller, had both critical and commercial success with 5 straight Top 40 LP releases, including Bustin' Out (1972), acclaimed by Allmusic critic Richard Foss as "an album that is unequaled in country-rock" and Two Lane Highway, described by Rolling Stone as "a worthy companion to the likes of the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo and other gems of the genre". Former members of Ronstadt's backing band went on to form the Eagles (two members of band were from the Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco), who emerged as one of the most successful rock acts of all time, producing albums that included Desperado (1973) and Hotel California (1976). However, the principal country rock influence in the Eagles came from Bernie Leadon of the Flying Burrito Brothers, and little country influence was left in the band after he left in late 1975. The Ozark Mountain Daredevils had hit singles “If You Wanna Get To Heaven” (1974) and "Jackie Blue" (1975), the latter of which peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975. The Belammy Brothers had the hit "Let Your Love Flow"(1976). In 1979, the Southern rock Charlie Daniels Band moved to a more country direction, released a song with strong bluegrass influence, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", and the song crossed over and became a hit on the pop chart.
Outside its handful of stars, country rock's greatest significance was on artists in other genres, including the Band, Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Rolling Stones and George Harrison's solo work. It also played a part in the development of Southern rock, which, although largely derived from blues rock, had a distinct southern lilt, and it paved the way for parts of the alternative country movement. The genre declined in popularity in the late 1970s, but some established artists, including Neil Young, have continued to record country-tinged rock into the twenty-first century. Country rock has survived as a cult force in Texas, where acts including the Flatlanders, Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and California-based Richard Brooker, have collaborated and recorded. Other performers have produced occasional recordings in the genre, including Elvis Costello's Almost Blue (1981) and the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss collaboration Raising Sand, which was one of the most commercially successful albums of 2007.
Alternative country , or alternative country rock (sometimes alt-country, insurgent country, or Americana) is a loosely defined subgenre of country music and rock music, which includes acts that differ significantly in style from mainstream country music and pop country music. Alternative country artists are often influenced by alternative rock. However, the term has been used to describe country music bands and artists that have incorporated influences from alternative rock, indie rock, roots rock, bluegrass, neotraditional country, punk rock, rockabilly, punkabilly, honky-tonk, outlaw country, folk rock, indie folk, folk revival, hard rock, R&B, country rock, heartland rock, and Southern rock.Bernie Leadon
Bernard Mathew Leadon III (pronounced led-un; born July 19, 1947) is an American musician, songwriter and founding member of the Eagles. Prior to the Eagles, he was a member of three pioneering and highly influential country rock bands: Hearts & Flowers, Dillard & Clark, and the Flying Burrito Brothers. He is a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, banjo, mandolin, steel guitar, dobro) coming from a bluegrass background. He introduced elements of this music to a mainstream audience during his tenure with the Eagles.
Leadon's music career since leaving the Eagles has been low-key, resulting in two solo albums with a gap of 27 years in between. Leadon has also appeared on many other artists' records as a session musician.Black Country Rock
"Black Country Rock" is a song written by David Bowie in 1970 for the album The Man Who Sold the World, which was released in November 1970 in the U.S. and April 1971 in the UK. (It was also issued as the B-side to Bowie's January 1971 "Holy Holy" single.) An upbeat blues-rock number, "Black Country Rock" has been described as a "respite" from the musical and thematical heaviness of the remainder of the album. Its style has been compared to Marc Bolan's contemporary Tyrannosaurus Rex, down to Bowie's imitative vibrato in the final verse. According to producer Tony Visconti, Bowie had the music ready by the start of the sessions but the words were a last-minute addition in the studio, the singer doing his Bolan impression "spontaneously ... because he ran out of lyrics ... we all thought it was cool, so it stayed."The song appeared in the soundtrack of the film The Kids Are All Right, released in 2010.Charlie Daniels
Charles Edward Daniels (born October 28, 1936) is an American multi-instrumentalist, lyricist, and singer, known for his contributions to Southern rock, country, and bluegrass music. He is perhaps best known for his number-one country hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia". Daniels has been active as a singer and musician since the 1950s. He was inducted into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame in 2002, the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009, and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.Chris Hillman
Christopher "Chris" Hillman (born December 4, 1944) is an American musician. He was one of the original members of The Byrds, which in 1965 included Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, David Crosby and Michael Clarke.
With frequent collaborator Gram Parsons, Hillman was a key figure in the development of country rock, defining the genre through his work with The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas and the country-rock group Desert Rose Band.Eagles (band)
The Eagles are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1971. The founding members were Glenn Frey (guitars, vocals), Don Henley (drums, vocals), Bernie Leadon (guitars, vocals) and Randy Meisner (bass guitar, vocals). With five number-one singles, six Grammy Awards, five American Music Awards, and six number-one albums, the Eagles were one of the most successful musical acts of the 1970s. At the end of the 20th century, two of their albums, Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) and Hotel California, were ranked among the 20 best-selling albums in the United States according to the Recording Industry Association of America. By 2006, both albums were among the top three best-selling albums in the United States. Hotel California is ranked 37th in Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" and the band was ranked number 75 on the magazine's 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.The Eagles are one of the world's best-selling bands in history, having sold more than 150 million records —120 million in the U.S. alone. Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) is the number one selling album in the US with more than 38 million album units in sales and streams and Hotel California is the third best selling album with more than 26 million album units in sales and streams. Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) was the best selling album of the 20th century in the U.S. They are the fifth-highest-selling music act and the highest-selling American band in U.S. history.
The band released their debut album, Eagles, in 1972, which spawned three top 40 singles: "Take It Easy", "Witchy Woman", and "Peaceful Easy Feeling". Their next album, Desperado (1973), was less successful than the first, only reaching number 41 on the charts; neither of its singles reached the top 40. However, the album does contain what would go on to be two of the band's most popular tracks: "Desperado" and "Tequila Sunrise". The band released On the Border in 1974, adding guitarist Don Felder as the fifth member midway through the recording of the album. The album generated two top 40 singles: "Already Gone" and their first number one, "Best of My Love".
Their 1975 album One of These Nights included three top 10 singles: "One of These Nights", "Lyin' Eyes", and "Take It to the Limit", the first hitting the top of the charts. Guitarist and vocalist Joe Walsh also joined the band in 1975 replacing Leadon. The Eagles continued that success and hit their commercial peak in late 1976 with the release of Hotel California, which would go on to sell more than 26 million copies in the U.S. alone and more than 42 million copies worldwide. The album yielded two number-one singles, "New Kid in Town" and "Hotel California". Meisner left the band in 1977 and was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit. They released their last studio album for nearly 28 years in 1979 with The Long Run, which spawned three top 10 singles: "Heartache Tonight", "The Long Run", and "I Can't Tell You Why", the lead single being another chart-topping hit.
The Eagles disbanded in July 1980 but reunited in 1994 for the album Hell Freezes Over, a mix of live and new studio tracks. They toured consistently and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2007, the Eagles released Long Road Out of Eden, their first full studio album in 28 years and their sixth number-one album. The next year they launched the Long Road Out of Eden Tour in support of the album. In 2013, they began the extended History of the Eagles Tour in conjunction with the band's documentary release, History of the Eagles.
Following the death of Frey in January 2016, Henley stated in several interviews that he did not think the band would perform again. However, the Eagles continued performing in 2017 with guest musicians Deacon Frey (son of Glenn) and Vince Gill.Hank Williams Jr.
Randall Hank Williams (born May 26, 1949), known professionally as Hank Williams Jr., or alternatively as “Bocephus,” is an American singer-songwriter and musician. His musical style is often considered a blend of Southern rock, blues, and traditional country. He is the son of country music singer Hank Williams and the father of Hank Williams III and Holly Williams.
Williams began his career following in his famed father's footsteps, covering his father's songs and imitating his father's style. Williams' first television appearance was in a 1964 episode of ABC's The Jimmy Dean Show, in which at age fourteen he sang several songs associated with his father. Later that year, he was a guest star on ABC's Shindig!.Williams' style evolved slowly as he struggled to find his own voice and place within country music. This was interrupted by a near-fatal fall off the side of Ajax Peak in Montana on August 8, 1975. After an extended recovery, he challenged the country music establishment with a blend of country, rock, and blues. Williams enjoyed much success in the 1980s, from which he earned considerable recognition and popularity both inside and outside country music. As a multi-instrumentalist, Williams' repertoire of skills includes guitar, bass guitar, upright bass, steel guitar, banjo, dobro, piano, keyboards, saxophone, harmonica, fiddle, and drums.From 1989 through October 2011, and since 2017, his song "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight," refashioned as "All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night," has been used to open broadcasts of Monday Night Football.Herb Pedersen
Herbert Joseph "Herb" Pedersen (born April 27, 1944 in Berkeley, California) is an American musician, guitarist, banjo player, and singer-songwriter who has played a variety of musical styles over the past forty years including country, bluegrass, progressive bluegrass, folk, folk rock, country rock, and has worked with numerous musicians in many different bands.Jim Messina (musician)
James Melvin Messina (born December 5, 1947) is an American musician, songwriter, singer, guitarist, recording engineer and record producer. He was a member of the folk rock group Buffalo Springfield, a founding member of the country rock pioneer Poco, and half of the soft rock duo Loggins and Messina with Kenny Loggins.Mac Davis
Morris Mac Davis (born January 21, 1942) is a country music singer, songwriter, and actor, originally from Lubbock, Texas, who has enjoyed much crossover success. His early work writing for Elvis Presley produced the hits "Memories", "In the Ghetto", "Don't Cry Daddy", and "A Little Less Conversation". A subsequent solo career in the 1970s produced hits such as "Baby, Don't Get Hooked on Me". He also starred in his own variety show, a Broadway musical, and various films and TV shows.Poco
Poco is an American country rock band originally formed by Richie Furay, Jim Messina and Rusty Young. Formed following the demise of Buffalo Springfield in 1968, Poco was part of the first wave of the West Coast country rock genre. The title of their first album, Pickin' Up the Pieces, is a reference to the break-up of Buffalo Springfield. Throughout the years Poco has performed in various groupings, and is still active.Roots rock
Roots rock is rock music that looks back to rock's origins in folk, blues and country music. It is particularly associated with the creation of hybrid subgenres from the later 1960s including country rock and Southern rock, which have been seen as responses to the perceived excesses of dominant psychedelic and developing progressive rock. Because roots music (Americana) is often used to mean folk and world musical forms, roots rock is sometimes used in a broad sense to describe any rock music that incorporates elements of this music. In the 1980s, roots rock enjoyed a revival in response to trends in punk rock, new wave and heavy metal music.Shooter Jennings
Waylon Albright "Shooter" Jennings (born May 19, 1979) is an American singer-songwriter who has released seven albums and numerous EPs. He also has made multiple appearances and cameos in films. Jennings is active mainly in outlaw country and Southern rock genres. Jennings is the son of country music legends Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter.
Currently signed to Universal South, Jennings made his debut with the single "4th Of July" of his 2005 album Put the "O" Back in Country, which peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard country charts. Jennings has since followed with six more full-length studio albums: Electric Rodeo (2006), The Wolf (2007), Black Ribbons (2009), Family Man (2012), The Other Life (2013) and Countach (For Giorgio) (2016), in addition to a live album, a compilation, and numerous EPs.
In 2018 it was announced Jennings will be releasing his eighth album called Shooter, under Dave Cobb’s Low Country Sound imprint label.Sill (geology)
In geology, a sill is a tabular sheet intrusion that has intruded between older layers of sedimentary rock, beds of volcanic lava or tuff, or along the direction of foliation in metamorphic rock. A sill is a concordant intrusive sheet, meaning that a sill does not cut across preexisting rock beds. Stacking of sills builds a sill complex and a large magma chamber at high magma flux. In contrast, a dike is a discordant intrusive sheet, which does cut across older rocks. Sills are fed by dikes, except in unusual locations where they form in nearly vertical beds attached directly to a magma source. The rocks must be brittle and fracture to create the planes along which the magma intrudes the parent rock bodies, whether this occurs along preexisting planes between sedimentary or volcanic beds or weakened planes related to foliation in metamorphic rock. These planes or weakened areas allow the intrusion of a thin sheet-like body of magma paralleling the existing bedding planes, concordant fracture zone, or foliations.
Sills parallel beds (layers) and foliations in the surrounding country rock. They can be originally emplaced in a horizontal orientation, although tectonic processes may cause subsequent rotation of horizontal sills into near vertical orientations. Sills can be confused with solidified lava flows; however, there are several differences between them. Intruded sills will show partial melting and incorporation of the surrounding country rock. On both contact surfaces of the country rock into which the sill has intruded, evidence of heating will be observed (contact metamorphism). Lava flows will show this evidence only on the lower side of the flow. In addition, lava flows will typically show evidence of vesicles (bubbles) where gases escaped into the atmosphere. Because sills generally form at shallow depths (up to many kilometers) below the surface, the pressure of overlying rock prevents this from happening much, if at all. Lava flows will also typically show evidence of weathering on their upper surface, whereas sills, if still covered by country rock, typically do not.The Band
The Band was a Canadian-American roots rock group including Rick Danko (bass guitar, vocals, fiddle), Garth Hudson (keyboards, accordion, saxophone), Richard Manuel (keyboards, drums, vocals), Robbie Robertson (guitar, vocals), and Levon Helm (drums, vocals, mandolin). The members of the Band first came together as rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins's Toronto, Ontario-based backing group, The Hawks, which they joined one by one between 1958 and 1963.
In 1964, they separated from Hawkins (and subsequently The Hawks), after which they toured and released a few singles as Levon and the Hawks and the Canadian Squires. The next year, Bob Dylan hired them for his U.S. tour in 1965 and world tour in 1966. Following the 1966 tour, the group moved with help from Bob Dylan and his manager, Albert Grossman, to Saugerties, New York, where they made the informal 1967 recordings that became The Basement Tapes, the basis for their 1968 debut album, Music from Big Pink. Because they were always "the band" to various frontmen and the locals in Woodstock, Helm said the name "the Band" worked well when the group came into its own. The group began performing as the Band in 1968 and went on to release ten studio albums. Dylan continued to collaborate with the Band over the course of their career, including a joint 1974 tour.
The original configuration of The Band ended its touring career in 1976 with an elaborate performance at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, California that featured numerous musical celebrities of the era. This performance was filmed for Martin Scorsese's 1978 documentary The Last Waltz. Although the members of the group intended to continue working on studio projects, they drifted apart after the release of Islands in March 1977.
The Band resumed touring in 1983 without Robertson, who had found success with a solo career and as a Hollywood music producer. As a result of their diminished popularity, they performed in theaters and clubs as headliners and took support slots in larger venues for onetime peers such as the Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills and Nash. Following a 1986 concert, Manuel committed suicide in his hotel room. The remaining three members continued to tour and record albums with a succession of musicians filling Manuel's and Robertson's roles; the final configuration of the group included Richard Bell (piano), Randy Ciarlante (drums), and Jim Weider (guitar). Danko died of heart failure in 1999, after which the group broke up for good. Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998 and was unable to sing for several years, but he eventually regained the use of his voice. He continued to perform and released several successful albums until he died in 2012.
The group was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. In 2004 Rolling Stone ranked them No. 50 on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time, and in 2008 they received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004, "The Weight" was ranked 41st on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.In 2014, the Band was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.The Byrds
The Byrds were an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple lineup changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn (known as Jim McGuinn until mid-1967) remaining the sole consistent member, until the group disbanded in 1973. Although they only managed to attain the huge commercial success of contemporaries like the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Rolling Stones for a short period in the mid-60s, the Byrds are today considered by critics to be nearly as influential as those bands. Their signature blend of clear harmony singing and McGuinn's jangly twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar was immediately absorbed into the vocabulary of popular music and has continued to be influential up to the present day.Initially, the band pioneered the musical genre of folk rock as a popular format on their debut album Mr. Tambourine Man (1965), by melding the influence of the Beatles and other British Invasion bands with contemporary and traditional folk music. As the 1960s progressed, the band was influential in originating psychedelic rock and raga rock, with their song "Eight Miles High" and the albums Fifth Dimension (1966), Younger Than Yesterday (1967) and The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968). They also played a pioneering role in the development of country rock, with the 1968 album Sweetheart of the Rodeo representing their fullest immersion into the genre.The original five-piece lineup of the Byrds consisted of Jim McGuinn (lead guitar, vocals), Gene Clark (tambourine, vocals), David Crosby (rhythm guitar, vocals), Chris Hillman (bass guitar, vocals), and Michael Clarke (drums). This version of the band was relatively short-lived and by early 1966, Clark had left due to problems associated with anxiety and his increasing isolation within the group. The Byrds continued as a quartet until late 1967, when Crosby and Clarke also departed the band. McGuinn and Hillman decided to recruit new members, including country rock pioneer Gram Parsons, but by late 1968, Hillman and Parsons had also exited the band. McGuinn elected to rebuild the band's membership and, between 1968 and 1973, he helmed a new incarnation of the Byrds, featuring guitarist Clarence White among others. McGuinn disbanded the then current lineup in early 1973, to make way for a reunion of the original quintet. The Byrds' final album was released in March 1973, with the reunited group disbanding soon afterwards.Several former members of the band went on to successful careers of their own, either as solo artists or as members of such groups as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Desert Rose Band. In the late 1980s, Gene and Michael both began touring as the Byrds, prompting a legal challenge from McGuinn, Crosby, and Hillman over the rights to the band's name. As a result of this, McGuinn, Crosby, and Hillman performed a series of reunion concerts as the Byrds in 1989 and 1990, and also recorded four new Byrds' songs. In 1991, the Byrds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an occasion that saw the five original members performing together for the last time. Gene Clark died of a heart attack later that year, while Michael Clarke died of liver failure in 1993. McGuinn, Crosby, and Hillman remain active.The Flying Burrito Brothers
The Flying Burrito Brothers are an American country rock band, best known for their influential 1969 debut album, The Gilded Palace of Sin. Although the group is perhaps best known for its connection to band founders Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman (formerly of the Byrds), the group underwent many personnel changes and has existed in various incarnations. A lineup with no original members (and derived from the 2000s-era Burrito Deluxe) currently performs as The Burrito Brothers.Traveling Wilburys
The Traveling Wilburys (sometimes shortened to the Wilburys) were a British–American supergroup consisting of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty. Originating from an idea discussed by Harrison and Lynne during the sessions for Harrison's 1987 album Cloud Nine, the band formed in April 1988 after the five members united to record a bonus track for Harrison's next European single. When this collaboration, "Handle with Care", was deemed too good for such a limited release, the group agreed to record a full album, titled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1. Following Orbison's death in December 1988, the band released a second album, which they titled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3, in 1990.
The project's work received much anticipation given the diverse nature of the singer-songwriters. The band members adopted tongue-in-cheek pseudonyms as half-brothers from a fictional Wilbury family of travelling musicians. Vol. 1 was a critical and commercial success, helping to revitalise Dylan's and Petty's respective careers. In 1990, the album won the Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group.
Although Harrison envisaged a series of Wilburys albums and a film about the band, produced through his company HandMade, the group's final release was in February 1991. After several years of unavailability, the two Wilburys albums were reissued by the Harrison estate in the 2007 box set The Traveling Wilburys Collection. The box set included a DVD containing their music videos and a documentary on the band's formation.