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Universal Master Tapes Lost In Blaze

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  • Universal Master Tapes Lost In Blaze

    Eleven years ago this month, a fire ripped through a part of Universal Studios Hollywood.

    At the time, the company said that the blaze had destroyed the theme park’s “King Kong” attraction and a video vault that contained only copies of old works.

    But, according to an article published on Tuesday by The New York Times Magazine, the fire also tore through an archive housing treasured audio recordings, amounting to what the piece described as “the biggest disaster in the history of the music business.”

    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...

    ... What was lost?

    Almost all of the master recordings stored in the vault were destroyed in the fire, including those produced by some of the most famous musicians since the 1940s.

    In a confidential report in 2009, Universal Music Group estimated the loss at about 500,000 song titles.

    The lost works most likely included masters in the Decca Records collection by Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland. The fire probably also claimed some of Chuck Berry’s greatest recordings, produced for Chess Records, as well as the masters of some of Aretha Franklin’s first appearances on record.

    Almost of all of Buddy Holly’s masters were lost, as were most of John Coltrane’s masters in the Impulse Records collection. 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.”

    The list of artists affected spans decades of popular music. It 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.
    NY Times


  • #2
    Reports yesterday suggest that the connections of Tupac Shakur and Tom Petty have launched a “class action” against Universal over this. Apparently Universal were paid our several millions in insurance money and tried to cover things up and keep all the money for themselves (when legally they should have made pay outs to the artists). Typical music business behaviour sadly.


    • #3

      38 Special
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      Big Bill Broonzy and Washboard Sam
      Brothers Johnson
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      Lawrence Brown
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      The Crusaders
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      The Cuff Links
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      Danny Elfman
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      Cass Elliott
      Joe Ely
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      Gil Evans
      Paul Evans
      Betty Everett
      Don Everly
      The Falcons
      Harold Faltermeyer
      Donna Fargo
      Art Farmer
      Freddie Fender
      Ferrante & Teicher
      Fever Tree
      The Fifth Dimension
      Ella Fitzgerald
      Five Blind Boys Of Alabama
      The Fixx
      The Flamingos
      King Floyd
      The Flying Burrito Brothers
      John Fogerty
      Red Foley
      Eddie Fontaine
      The Four Aces
      The Four Tops
      Peter Frampton
      Franke & the Knockouts
      Aretha Franklin
      The Rev. C.L. Franklin
      The Free Movement
      Glenn Frey
      Lefty Frizzell
      Curtis Fuller
      Jerry Fuller
      Lowell Fulson
      Harvey Fuqua
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      Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers
      Gene Loves Jezebel
      Barry Gibb
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      Dizzy Gillespie
      Gin Blossoms
      Tompall Glaser
      Tom Glazer
      Whoopi Goldberg
      Golden Earring
      Paul Gonsalves
      Benny Goodman
      Dexter Gordon
      Rosco Gordon
      Lesley Gore
      The Gospelaires
      Teddy Grace
      Grand Funk Railroad
      Amy Grant
      Earl Grant
      The Grass Roots
      Dobie Gray
      Buddy Greco
      Keith Green
      Al Green
      Jack Greene
      Robert Greenidge
      Lee Greenwood
      Patty Griffin
      Nanci Griffith
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      Buddy Guy
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      Charlie Haden
      Merle Haggard
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      Aaron Hall
      Lani Hall
      Chico Hamilton
      George Hamilton IV
      Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds
      Marvin Hamlisch
      Jan Hammer
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      John Handy
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      Freddie Harts
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      Coleman Hawkins
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      Al Hibbler
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      Monk Higgins
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      Billie Holiday
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      Buddy Holly
      The Hollywood Flames
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      Garland Jeffreys
      Beverly Jenkins
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      The Jets
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      Rickie Lee Jones
      Tamiko Jones
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      Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five
      The Jordanaires
      Jurassic 5
      Bert Kaempfert
      Kitty Kallen & Georgie Shaw
      The Kalin Twins
      Bob Kames
      Boris Karloff
      Sammy Kaye
      Toby Keith
      Gene Kelly
      Chaka Khan
      B.B. King
      The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
      Wayne King
      The Kingsmen
      The Kingston Trio
      Roland Kirk
      Eartha Kitt
      John Klemmer
      Baker Knight
      Chris Knight
      Gladys Knight and the Pips
      Steve Kuhn
      Rolf Kuhn
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      Patti LaBelle
      L.A. Dream Team
      Lambert, Hendricks & Ross
      Frankie Lane
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      Steve Lawrence
      Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gormé
      Lafayette Leake
      Brenda Lee
      Laura Lee
      Leapy Lee
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      Danni Leigh
      The Lennon Sisters
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      Limp Bizkit
      Lisa Loeb
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      Little Milton
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      Guy Lombardo
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      Patti Loveless
      The Lovelites
      Lyle Lovett
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      Melissa Manchester
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      Steve Marriott
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      Dave Mason
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      Robert Maxwell
      John Mayall
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      Les McCann
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      Robert Lee McCollum
      Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr.
      Van McCoy
      Jimmy McCracklin
      Jack McDuff
      Reba McEntire
      Gary McFarland
      Barry McGuire
      The McGuire Sisters
      Duff McKagan
      Maria McKee
      McKendree Spring
      Marian McPartland
      Clyde McPhatter
      Carmen McRae
      Jack McVea
      Meat Loaf
      Memphis Slim
      Sergio Mendes
      Ethel Merman
      Pat Metheny
      Mighty Clouds of Joy
      Roger Miller
      Stephanie Mills
      The Mills Brothers
      Liza Minnelli
      Charles Mingus
      Joni Mitchell
      Bill Monroe
      Vaughn Monroe
      Wes Montgomery
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      The Moody Blues
      The Moonglows
      Jane Morgan
      Russ Morgan
      Ennio Morricone
      Mos Def
      Martin Mull
      Gerry Mulligan
      Milton Nascimento
      Johnny Nash
      Rick Nelson & the Stone Canyon Band
      Ricky Nelson
      Jimmy Nelson
      Oliver Nelson
      Aaron Neville
      Art Neville
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      New Edition
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      Olivia Newton-John
      Night Ranger
      Leonard Nimoy
      Nine Inch Nails
      The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
      No Doubt
      Ken Nordine
      Red Norvo Sextet
      Terri Nunn
      The Oak Ridge Boys
      Ric Ocasek
      Phil Ochs
      Hazel O’Connor
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      Oingo Boingo
      The O’Jays
      Spooner Oldham
      One Flew South
      Yoko Ono
      Jeffrey Osborne
      The Outfield
      Jackie Paris
      Leo Parker
      Junior Parker
      Ray Parker Jr.
      Dolly Parton
      Les Paul
      Freda Payne
      Peaches & Herb
      Ce Ce Peniston
      The Peppermint Rainbow
      The Persuasions
      Bernadette Peters
      Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
      John Phillips
      Webb Pierce
      The Pinetoppers
      Bill Plummer
      The Pointer Sisters
      The Police
      Doc Pomus
      Jimmy Ponder
      Iggy Pop
      Billy Preston
      Lloyd Price
      Louis Prima
      Puddle Of Mudd
      Red Prysock
      Leroy Pullins
      The Pussycat Dolls
      Queen Latifah
      Sun Ra
      The Radiants
      Gerry Rafferty
      Kenny Rankin
      The Ray Charles Singers
      The Ray-O-Vacs
      The Rays
      Dewey Redman
      Della Reese
      Martha Reeves
      Debbie Reynolds
      Emitt Rhodes
      Buddy Rich
      Emil Richards
      Dannie Richmond
      Riders in the Sky
      Stan Ridgway
      Frazier River
      Sam Rivers
      Max Roach
      Marty Roberts
      Howard Roberts
      The Roches
      Chris Rock
      Tommy Roe
      Jimmy Rogers
      Sonny Rollins
      The Roots
      Rose Royce
      Jackie Ross
      Doctor Ross
      Rotary Connection
      The Rover Boys
      Roswell Rudd
      Rufus and Chaka Khan
      Otis Rush
      Brenda Russell
      Leon Russell
      Pee Wee Russell
      Russian Jazz Quartet
      Mitch Ryder
      Buffy Sainte-Marie
      Joe Sample
      Pharoah Sanders
      The Sandpipers
      Gary Saracho
      Shirley Scott
      Tom Scott
      Dawn Sears
      Neil Sedaka
      Jeannie Seely
      Charlie Sexton
      Marlena Shaw
      Tupac Shakur
      Archie Shepp
      Dinah Shore
      Ben Sidran
      Silver Apples
      Shel Silverstein
      The Simon Sisters
      Ashlee Simpson
      The Simpsons
      Zoot Sims
      P.F. Sloan
      Smash Mouth
      Kate Smith
      Keely Smith
      Tab Smith
      Patti Smyth
      Snoop Dogg
      Valaida Snow
      Jill Sobule
      Soft Machine
      Sonic Youth
      Sonny and Cher
      The Soul Stirrers
      Eddie South
      Southern Culture on the Skids
      Spinal Tap
      Banana Splits
      The Spokesmen
      Jo Stafford
      Chris Stamey
      Joe Stampley
      Michael Stanley
      Kay Starr
      Stealers Wheel
      Steely Dan
      Gwen Stefani
      Cat Stevens
      Billy Stewart
      Sonny Stitt
      Shane Stockton
      George Strait
      The Strawberry Alarm Clock
      Yma Sumac
      Andy Summers
      The Sundowners
      The Surfaris
      Sylvia Syms
      Gábor Szabó
      The Tams
      Grady Tate
      Koko Taylor
      Billy Taylor
      Charlie Teagarden
      Temple of the Dog
      Clark Terry
      Sister Rosetta Tharpe
      Robin Thicke
      Toots Thielemans
      B.J. Thomas
      Irma Thomas
      Rufus Thomas
      Hank Thompson
      Lucky Thompson
      Big Mama Thornton
      Three Dog Night
      The Three Stooges
      Mel Tillis
      Tommy & the Tom Toms
      Mel Tormé
      The Tragically Hip
      The Trapp Family Singers
      Ralph Tresvant
      Ernest Tubb
      The Tubes
      Tanya Tucker
      Tommy Tucker
      The Tune Weavers
      Ike Turner
      Stanley Turrentine
      Conway Twitty
      McCoy Tyner
      Phil Upchurch
      Michael Utley
      Leroy Van Dyke
      Gino Vannelli
      Van Zant
      Billy Vaughan
      Suzanne Vega
      Vega Brothers
      Veruca Salt
      The Vibrations
      Bobby Vinton
      Porter Wagoner
      The Waikikis
      Rufus Wainwright
      Rick Wakeman
      Jerry Jeff Walker
      The Wallflowers
      Joe Walsh
      Wang Chung
      Clara Ward
      Warrior Soul
      Washboard Sam
      Was (Not Was)
      Justine Washington
      The Watchmen
      Muddy Waters
      Jody Watley
      Johnny “Guitar” Watson
      The Weavers
      The Dream Weavers
      Ben Webster
      We Five
      George Wein
      Lenny Welch
      Lawrence Welk
      Kitty Wells
      Mae West
      Barry White
      Michael White
      Slappy White
      White Zombie
      The Who
      Kim Wilde
      Don Williams
      Jody Williams
      John Williams
      Larry Williams
      Lenny Williams
      Leona Williams
      Paul Williams
      Roger Williams
      Sonny Boy Williamson
      Walter Winchell
      Kai Winding
      Johnny Winter
      Wishbone Ash
      Jimmy Witherspoon
      Howlin’ Wolf
      Bobby Womack
      Lee Ann Womack
      Phil Woods
      O.V. Wright
      Bill Wyman
      Rusty York
      Faron Young
      Neil Young
      Young Black Teenagers
      Y & T
      Rob Zombie

      Big hitters in there. Some serious court time to follow, you'd think?


      • #4
        I'm finding this very depressing. Let alone the unreleased things, but when you play a record and realise that (unless there is a high quality tape copy or digital transfer in another studio somewhere, and someone knows it's there) there will never be another reissue (or even a reissue at all) that won't just be a vinyl or CD rip.

        Absolutely no reason for them to have even been storing tapes in Hollywood, the whole situation was ludicrous


        • #5
          Many of my favourite artists on that list. To me this is as bad as the fire at Notre Dame. Thousands of works of art destroyed.

          I think the saddest part is all the unreleased material that may now never be heard again. You would think, however, that for the “crown jewel” recordings they will have stored copies of the master tapes elsewhere as a back up. Surely that will be the case for many recordings?


          • #6
            Or its like the hard disk crash that destroys all those files you've been sitting on for years, with vague ideas of doing 'something' with them, and now suddenly they're all gone and you're ... free ..??
            Dave Lee Roth, I Too Am Running With This Devil Of Which You Speak (sic)