Traveling on the way to Peebles

editorial image

There are moments in music that you just don’t see coming – and the joining together of five legends of the industry to form the Traveling Wilburys was most definitely one of them.

Perhaps the most famous supergroup of all time, the Traveling Wilburys formed by happy accident in 1988 when George Harrison was hanging out in Bob Dylan’s studio and enlisted pals Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison to help with a B-side for his latest album.

As jam sessions go, it must have been a cracker, with the resulting Handle with Care becoming the first track of a fully-collaborative album. A band was born, with the five legends of the music industry creating a sound like no other – not to mention a debut album that sold more than five million copies around the world.

And it’s that unique sound – one that saw all five write, sing and play – that is captured so brilliantly by tribute band, The Big O and the Wilburys, who roll up in Peebles later this month.

Formed 18 months ago by Paul Hopkins (who plays Roy Orbison), the band is a group of extremely talented musicians and singers who play in an easy, relaxed style, with great respect for each other’s individual abilities – much like the original Wilburys.

Hopkins, who has performed his tribute to the “Big O” for 16 years, is joined by Matt Gaffiney (who plays George Harrison), Aubrey Robinson (Bob Dylan), Owen James (Tom Petty) and Richard Gibson (Jeff Lynne).

Between them, the musicians have toured the world in various guises, performing with a rich variety of acts from Jesus Jones and Ocean Colour Scene to Carlos Santana.

Currently on a nationwide tour, the Wilburys have wowed audiences with their uncanny vocal and musical resemblances to the original band members. And with the Traveling Wilburys never actually going on tour – perhaps partly due to the untimely death of Roy Orbison – this is a wonderful chance to enjoy a live Wilburys experience.

A real up-tempo, feelgood show, audiences are treated to a range of hits, not just from the Wilburys (Handle with Care, End of the Line, Tweeter and the Monkey Man and others), but also from the back catalogue of the famous five themselves – from Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind and Mighty Quinn, to Tom Petty’s always rousing Won’t Back Down.

Other highlights include George Harrison’s Here Comes the Sun and Roll Over Beethoven by Jeff Lynne.

“All the cast have been hand-picked for their individual tributes to the stars and their charisma on stage,” explained show manager Jayne Connor.

She added: “Audiences have loved the mix of music as there is something for everyone’s taste and all ages.”

The band has played at a variety of venues across Scotland in the past, with future dates including a night at Glasgow’s O2 arena, but this will be its first show in the Borders.

Jayne said: “We’re really looking forward to it. The show is very entertaining with a great sprinkling of humour and fun along the way.”

The Big O and the Wilburys perform at the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, on Friday, July 24, at 7.30pm. Tickets are £18.50, available now from the box office – telephone 01721 725777 – or online at