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Music

Tom Petty's regret about The Travelling Wilbury's

Tom Petty felt like the luckiest person on the planet when George Harrison handpicked him to be a member of The Travelling Wilbury’s alongside Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison. However, he does hold one regret from his time with the group.

Before their formation, Harrison had been through a period of professional turmoil which led to him falling out of love with the music industry. He was no longer interested in commercial success or doing anything for anyone but himself. After growing bored of life as a solo artist, Harrison wanted a taste of life in a band once more and decided to give some famous friends a call.

Nobody in their right mind would turn down the opportunity to work with a Beatle, and Harrison had his pick of the musical world. Petty was elated when he received the call to work with one of his heroes, and he cherished every moment of the experience.

Unlike their solo endeavours, there was no pressure attached to The Travelling Wilbury’s, and they worked at their own pace. During their time together, they made two albums, with the latter created as a four-piece following the death of Roy Orbison.

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Looking back on his time in the group, Petty once blissfully reminisced: “The thing I guess that would be hardest for people to understand is what good friends we were. It really had very little to do with combining a bunch of famous people, it was a bunch of friends that just happened to be really good at making music.”

However, Petty intensely regrets their decision to not tour or even play a live show. While a world tour would have been a logistical conundrum considering they all had incredibly busy schedules, they could have made a short run of dates work and transported their records to the live arena.

It would have been an absolute spectacle to see these behemoths of music stand side-by-side and perform in unison. Sadly, it never came to fruition, much to the dismay of Petty, who admitted the notion was “considered often”.

“We talked about it many nights and then never really did it,” he told Mass Live in 2007. “We might have some beers and plan it all night and then in the morning we’d be like, ‘Well, no.’ (laughs) Especially when we became successful, there were all kinds of people trying to get us to do tours.”

Strangely, it very much aligned with The Travelling Wilbury’s spirit that they turned down the lucrative offers to tour and kept it as a passion project. On the other hand, it would have been magical if they teamed up for a live performance, even if it was for one-night-only.

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