Master Recordings from GUNS N ROSES, NINE INCH NAILS, NIRVANA And Thousands More Lost In A Fire
In 2008, Universal Studios Hollywood suffered a catastrophic fire that destroyed one of the theme park's main attractions, "King Kong." At the time, studio officials said a video vault was also affected in the fire but turns out officials were doing damage control and the fires were much more intense than originally reported over ten years ago.
A report from The New York Times breaks down exactly what happened:
The fire started in the early hours of June 1, 2008.
Overnight, maintenance workers had used blowtorches to repair the roof of a building on the set of New England Street, a group of colonial-style buildings used in scenes for movies and television shows. The workers followed protocol and waited for the shingles they worked on to cool, but the fire broke out soon after they left, just before 5 a.m.
The flames eventually reached Building 6197, known as the video vault, which housed videotapes, film reels and, crucially, a library of master sound recordings owned by Universal Music Group.
The report goes on to say that "almost all" of the master recordings were lost in the fire, with an internal Universal Music Group report stating about 500,000 song titles were forever destroyed.
Treasured master collections from classic musicians like Billie Holiday, Bintg Crosby and Judy Garland. All of Buddy Holly's masters were gone. Aretha Franklin's first appearances on record were lost as well.
According to The New York Times some of the artists' recordings affected by the fire include, but are not limited to, 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.
The master recordings are what all future releases are dubbed off of, whether digital or physical. Source material has now been lost to some of the last century's greatest artists. It is the purest recording of a song.
At the time, Universal did expert damage control avoiding the topic of the "video vault" and focusing on the King Kong ride's destrucrtion. Part of the reason was to downplay the scope of the massive loss of archives and to avoid potential lawsuits from the musicians and their estates.
According to the report, the loss was uncovered after looking through a series of litigation and company documents obtained by The New York Times.