Decade Old Fire At Universal Studios Revealed To Have Destroyed Thousands Of Master Recordings

June 11, 2019
Universal Studios, Tour, Bus, Movie Set, Fire, Fireball, Explosion

(Photo by Dan MacMedan)

Eleven years ago, Universal Studios Hollywood accidentally caught on fire.

Maintenance workers used blowtorches to repair the roof of a building, and followed all the correct protocols.  Unfortunately, after crews left, just before 5am, a fire broke out.  At the time, Universal Studios Hollywood said only the theme park’s “King Kong” attraction, and a video vault that contained only copies of old works had been destroyed.  However, now we are finding out the fires damaged so much more.

It has just been revealed that the 2008 fire actually reached all the way to Building 6197which housed videotapes, film reels, and a library of master sound recordings owned by Universal Music Group.  Almost the entire collection of master recordings located in this vault were destroyed, which included works from the likes of Ray Charles, B.B. King, the Four Tops, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, Sonny and Cher, Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Al Green, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Buffett, the Eagles, Aerosmith, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Barry White, Patti LaBelle, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Police, Sting, Steve Earle, R.E.M., Janet Jackson, Guns N’ Roses, Mary J. Blige, No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails, Snoop Dogg, Nirvana, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, 50 Cent and the Roots, just to name a few.

Jody Rosen, a journalist and contributing writer for The New York Times, calls the loss "historic," even though most major record companes trash master tapes.  Rosen, however, believes that Universal Music Group, privately, viewed the loss as it truly was: “Lost in the fire was, undoubtedly, a huge musical heritage."

Rosen believes Universal Music Group tried to suppress the actuality of the loss for so long to maintain its public image, and to minimize public embarrassment, as well as backlash from the artists whose recordings were lost.

Via The New York Times