UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – JUNE 01: Approximately 300 firefighters battle a huge fire on the backlot of Universal Studios on June 1, 2008 in Universal City, California. The fire is consuming the filming site of many blockbuster movies including Back to the Future and King Kong. The New York Streets lot and a film vault have reportedly burned. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Remember the fire that happened on the backlot of Universal Studios in 2008? It was originally reported the fire damaged Universal Studio’s iconic filming locations and legendary sound stages. Well new reports are coming out saying the fire did more damage than originally thought.
The New York Times Magazine recently published a story that says thousands and thousands of master recordings owned by Universal Music Group were destroyed and lost in the fire. You may be asking yourself, why has it taken 11 years for this info to finally to come light? The main reason why the actual damages to Universal Music Group’s archival warehouse was unknown until now is because back in 2008 original reports said the location of the fire was in a video vault. Plus, coverage of the incident was directed towards Universal Studio’s filming studios and sets ruined by the fire. A nice diversion to cover up the truth about how much was really lost.
Despite the initial misdirect, there was a 2008 Deadline report that said the fire did burn irreplaceable master tapes. A spokesperson for Universal Music Group denied those reports and said they “had no loss.” Unfortunately, these statements were false because in 2009 there was a confidential report from Universal Music Group that claimed “500,000 song titles” were lost in the fire.
In case you didn’t know, Universal Music Group is the world’s largest recording company, as you can imagine, their archives of recorded music spans multiple decades and genres, along with the archives from the many record labels they have obtained over the years. The running list of artists whose master tapes were affected from the fire can be found down below. The new reports comes from interviews with former Universal Music Group employees and internal documents.
Overall, this is such sad news. So many historical and one of a kind master tapes are gone forever. No one, not even the artists who created the music, will be able to access their works of art ever again for any sort of future use. It’s frustrating that it has taken 11 years for this info to come out. Especially for the artists themselves to find out about this news so many years later.
Below is a list of artists whose master tapes are suspected to be affected from the 2008 fire.
Guns N’ Roses
The Mamas and the Papas
Mary J. Blige
Nine Inch Nails
Sammy Davis Jr.
Sonny and Cher
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers