According to a new report from The New York Times, a fire that ripped through Universal Music Studios in 2008 damaged far more than Universal Music Group originally let on. When news of the fire broke in June 2008, the majority of major news outlets focused on the loss from the video vault “that contained only copies of old works.” In reality, decades and hundreds of thousands of original masters and recordings of classic pieces of music were lost.
Jody Rosen, the original author of the article for NYT, called the original release of information in 2008 a “triumph of crisis management.” The only reason we’re just now hearing about the loss of music is because documents from the company have been laid out during ongoing litigation.
The loss has been described as “a huge musical heritage” in one internal UMG correspondence, and “historic” by Rosen. A conservative estimate of the music lost “includes recordings by 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.”
NYT continues, “The fire also claimed numerous hit singles, likely including Bill Haley and His Comets’ ‘Rock Around the Clock,’ Etta James’s ‘At Last’ and the Kingsmen’s ‘Louie Louie.'”
Read the full piece from New York Times here.