The supergroup to end all supergroups had a serendipitous beginning, so it's fitting that they're named after George's slang term for an accident. The word "Wilbury" was invented while he was working on 1987's Cloud Nine with Jeff Lynne as co-producer. When confronted with recording errors caused by faulty equipment, Harrison would assure Lynne, "We'll bury 'em in the mix." The line was eventually shortened to "Wilbury," a catch-all descriptor for minor performance mistakes and imperfections.
George would use the term again in the spring of 1988 during a laid-back session with some friends in Los Angeles. He had been tasked with writing a B side to a European 12-inch single, so he called Lynne, who was busy producing a new album for Roy Orbison. Over dinner, the trio agreed to work on the yet-to-be-written song together, and Harrison suggested they go to "Bob's house" to flesh it out. The house in question was Bob Dylan's Malibu residence, which boasted a home studio in the garage. Dylan answered Harrison's phone call (on the first ring, according to legend) and the plan was in motion.
But first George needed to make a pit stop at Tom Petty's house to retrieve a favored guitar. During the detour, he invited Petty to the sessions, and the band of friends swelled to five. A short while later, the musicians were having a casual barbecue mixed with an impromptu jam session. Harrison noticed an old box in the garage labeled "Handle With Care." This provided inspiration for an opening line: "Been beat up and battered 'round." The rest of the song, named for the message on the box, came together quickly.
Warner Brothers label executives felt the song was too strong to be wasted on a lowly B side and urged Harrison to continue with the project. The quintet reconvened at Eurythmics member Dave Stewart's home studio in Los Angeles for nine days that May, where they laid down the basic tracks for an entire album. When pushed to name their new group, Harrison suggested "the Trembling Wilburys." Another member, alternately reported as Lynne or Dylan, suggested "Traveling" might be a better fit.