Back in 1988, The Traveling Wilburys supergroup (Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, and Jeff Lynne) actually thought about touring to support their first album. Production/lighting designer Jim Lenahan (Petty's longtime designer) was enlisted for the job. For inspiration, he turned to the album's art. "It had all these weird, Monty Python-esque pictures on the back, and Eric Idle did the liner notes," he says. "So I envisioned some kind of Terry Gilliamesque vehicle as the set. The sails were going to be projection surfaces, and the wing was a thrust that we could go out on. The wheel house was the monitor mix position, and there would be smoke coming out of the smokestack and the wheels on the train would turn. But it was a really conceptual sketch, and we never got as far as the nuts and bolts of how we would actually do it."
When the band finally made a firm commitment--not to tour, as it turned out--Lenahan approached Petty about using the idea for his upcoming tour. "He said, 'Sure, draw it up. Maybe we can use it.' So I did and he loved it, and he said, 'Hang on to it; when it comes time to go out, we'll look into building it.'
"Well, a few months went by, and I went back to it, and every time I'd look at it and think, 'This is the Traveling Wilburys. This is not Tom Petty,'" Lenahan continues. "I finally went back to Petty and told him I just didn't think it was a Tom Petty-looking set. He said, 'Okay. Well, what else you got?' And I said, 'What do you think about a big tree?' That's how we ended up doing the big inflatable treehouse for the 1991-92 Into the Great Wide Open tour. Now that Roy Orbison has died, I don't think there's any chance the Traveling Wilburys will ever tour. But it was a fun idea."