Universal Music Archives Fire Appears Worse Than Reported

hypebot Bruce Houghton

image from cdn.pixabay.comIt is slowly becoming clearer just how devastating a backlot fire at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2008 was to recorded music, and artists and artist managers are openly voicing their fears.

According to a report in the New York Times Magazine, part of the lot damaged by the fire housed a warehouse used by Universal to store archival material, including a section that had been portioned off for use by Universal Music Group.

At the time, UMG disputed a report that thousands of masters had been damaged or destroyed. However, in confidential documents created in the wake of the fire and obtained by the New York Times, UMG’s internal estimates put the number of assets destroyed at 118,230. Rock classics stored as single masters were lost as well, including Bill Haley and His Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock,” Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats’ “Rocket 88,” Bo Diddley’s “Bo Diddley/I’m A Man,” Etta James’s “At Last,” the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie” and the Impressions’ “People Get Ready.”

Contemporary losses include the recordings of Elton John, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, Beck, and Eminem among numerous others.

Steely Dan’s material appears to be one of the fallen soldiers.

“We have been aware of ‘missing’ original Steely Dan tapes for a long time now,” Steely Dan manager Irving Azoff said in a statement. “We’ve never been given a plausible explanation. Maybe they burned up in the big fire. In any case, it’s certainly a lost treasure.”

Meanwhile, Nirvana member Krist Novoselic has noted that the masters of the group’s seminal album, Nevermind, may be lost.

Questlove, drummer for The Roots, also tweeted that the loss means the band cannot reissue its second and third studio albums.

A representative for Hole has told Pitchfork that the band was “not aware until this morning that their music had been destroyed. Meanwhile, reps for REM are looking into the matter.

- CelebrityAccess

Bruce Houghton