Decades Of Important Music Revealed Lost In Universal Studios Fire Of 2008

Lawrence Kim
June 12, 2019

The 3.5-acre fire took a full day to contain; after drenching it with water and foam fire retardant proved unsuccessful, firefighters had to raze the warehouse.

Universal had originally only said that the King Kong attraction and a video vault were burnt down but it turns out that they were hiding the fact that tons of master recordings also perished in the fire. Master music recordings are the original recordings from which all subsequent copies are derived. According to the report, recordings by Universal Music Group artists artists including Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Tupac Shakur, Mary J. Blige, Billie Holiday, and Louis Armstrong were all lost. Other songs from lesser-known artists signed to the many labels UMG swept up might be gone entirely if lower-quality copies of their music weren't stored elsewhere.

Still, the Times reports that a 2009 internal report estimated that 500,000 songs had been lost. At the time, however, the entertainment industry heavy-hitter downplayed the damage.

When a fire broke out at Universal Studios in Los Angeles in June 2008, a lot of Hollywood movie magic was lost.

According to a report The New York Times published Tuesday (June 11), works from Eminem, 50 Cent and Tupac Shakur were among the master recordings destroyed in the fire. "It's a secret I'm ashamed to have been a part of".

Universal Music Group would not confirm the number of actual losses due to the fire, nor would it confirm the status of masters for specific artists.

While reporters for The Times appear to have gone through great lengths to research this matter, one rep for UMG told Variety that the publication's reports include "numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident and affected assets".

"Music preservation is of the highest priority for us and we are proud of our track record", the statement reads.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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