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A 2008 fire destroyed masters for many UMG artists
#1
Devastating loss:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/11/us/ma...-fire.html

Quote: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.”

Check out the list of lost artwork:

Quote: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.
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#2
Weird it took this long for this to come to light.
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#3
I don't think anyone's really surprised, either that the losses were so severe or that Uni was so reluctant to acknowledge it publicly.
"I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on Earth."--Steve McQueen
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#4
Quote:Universal Disputes New York Times Warehouse Fire Story, But Cites No Evidence
The company says the bombshell story contains “inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings”

I can only imagine that UMG is trying to keep this hushhush in an attempt to prevent lawsuits from the musicians/bands who lost their work.
I used to be with "it", but then they changed what "it" was. Now, what I'm with isn't "it", and what's "it" seems weird and scary to me.   -Grandpa Simpson
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#5
The record companies had not been putting a lot of interest/money into preserving these master tapes.
Now with the new technology and people's interest in the older recordings increasing, they are finding there is money to be made in the old master tapes.
Copies are never as good as the original master tapes so aside from potential lawsuits from artists/bands, the amount of money lost by the record companies could be immense.
When the next new media for distributing music comes out, they lost the chance of putting those masters into the new format.

As a society, we lost part of our heritage.
In retrospect, maybe I should not have admitted to eating my own smegma on a Ritz cracker. It was a lapse in judgement. Moltisanti
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#6
Nine Inch Nails made high fidelity versions of a few of their Interscope records (Downward Spiral and With Teeth), so at least there is something higher than CD quality left. Trent is tech savvy so maybe he had his own backups.

Steely Dan may have some SACD/DVDA quality stuff released too, but I'm sure this is a major loss for them. I don't know if any work was ever done with the Gaucho bootleg stuff.

Then there's many other great bands of course, jazz and blues legends, etc. The whole thing is a massive violation of these artists.

If any of The Cure's stuff got destroyed...
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#7
(06-12-2019, 06:03 AM)hammerhead Wrote: I don't think anyone's really surprised, either that the losses were so severe or that Uni was so reluctant to acknowledge it publicly.

I am.
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#8
HUNDREDS more artists apparently had their work destroyed - https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/25/magaz...t-umg.html

Quote:The list that appears at the end of this article provides a fuller sense of the historical scope of the 2008 disaster. The recording artists whose names The Times is publishing for the first time today represent an extraordinary cross-section of genres and periods: classic pop balladeers (Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, Pat Boone), jazz greats (Sidney Bechet, Betty Carter, Roland Kirk), show business legends (Groucho Marx, Mae West, Bob Hope), gospel groups (the Dixie Hummingbirds, Five Blind Boys of Alabama, the Soul Stirrers), country icons (the Carter Family, Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell), illustrious songwriters (Hoagy Carmichael, Doc Pomus, Lamont Dozier), doo-wop and rhythm & blues favorites (Johnny Ace, the Moonglows, the Del-Vikings), ’50s and ’60s chart toppers (Ricky Nelson, Petula Clark, Brenda Lee), bluesmen (Slim Harpo, Elmore James, Otis Rush), world-music stars (Miriam MakebaHugh Masekela, Milton Nascimento), classic rockers (The Who, Joe Cocker, Three Dog Night), folkies and folk-rockers (Sandy Denny, Crosby & Nash, Buffy Sainte-Marie), singer-songwriters (Phil Ochs, Terry Callier, Joan Armatrading), ’70s best-sellers (Peter Frampton, Olivia Newton-John, Barry Gibb), soul and disco-era stalwarts (the Dramatics, the Pointer Sisters, George Benson), AM rock-radio staples (Styx, Boston, 38 Special), divas and divos (Cher, Tom Jones), British punks and new wavers (The Damned, Joe Jackson, Squeeze), MTV fixtures (Wang Chung, Patti Smyth, Extreme), hip-hop/R&B hitmakers (Bell Biv Devoe, Jodeci, Blackstreet), ’90s rock acts (Primus, Temple of the Dog, the Wallflowers), rappers (Heavy D. & the Boyz, Busta Rhymes, Common), comedians (Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Cosby, Chris Rock), even the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose album “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” a recording of a keynote address given at an A.M.E. church convention, was released in 1968 on Excello, a blues label whose masters were stored in the backlot vault.
I was in a horror-comedy called BLACK HOLLER. It's now on Prime Video. Check it out!
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#9
Did it at least destroy that awful album of Pat Boone doing covers of heavy metal songs?
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#10
They're probably not losing any sleep over the Cosby stuff.
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#11
Here's a much bigger list of artists affected by the fire:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/25/magaz...t-umg.html
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#12
Lots of unreleased Beck material was likely destroyed:

https://www.spin.com/2019/11/beck-unrele...-umg-fire/

Quote:How does an entire Beck double album of solo Hank Williams covers sound to you? How about a pre-Odelay LP of indie rock songs, one which the man himself describes as sounding “like a Pavement, Sebadoh kind of thing”? A full record of Beck backed by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion? A Beck country album recorded Nashville? An album’s worth of outtakes from Sea Change?

All of this exists, apparently—or, it existed at one point. In a newly published article in the Sydney Morning Herald—the same publication in which Beck first denounced any affiliation with Scientology recently—the pop-rock polymath claimed that he’s released only about 10 percent of the music he’s recorded, and he fears that much if not all of the archives were destroyed in the 2008 Universal Music Group fire.

According to Beck, his management “still won’t tell me what was lost.” “I have a feeling that my management is not telling me because they can’t bear to break the news,” he said. He believes the damage may include multiple full unreleased records, including all of the fantasy albums described above.

The UMG fire, the full scope of which was first reported by The New York Times this year, led to the destruction of master recordings by a head-spinning array of iconic artists—Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Patsy Cline, John Lee Hooker, Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Tom Petty, R.E.M., and we’re only beginning to scratch the surface here—which were being stored in a backlot vault at Universal Studios. Representatives of artists including Hole, Soundgarden, and Petty have since filed a class-action lawsuit against UMG over the incident.

Beck told the Herald that he was discussing his own losses in an effort to bring more attention to the problem of poor preservation of master recordings. “I have friends who work in archives and they see the tapes for legendary artists from the ’50s just lying there in a cardboard box, not being climate controlled and preserved correctly in an acid-free box,” he said. “There’s a lot of neglect of masters. It’s a big problem.”
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#13
That's a real shame, I'd like to have heard that 90s stuff.

Another good reason not to sign with a major label in this day and age. They won't spend a dime to protect your physical masters properly. Artists have to store their own masters from now on, and keep the rights to them.
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#14
Universal begrudgingly acknowledges that the original masters of Nirvana's Nevermind were destroyed:

Quote:The reason this is news 12 years later is because Universal never told the artists impacted by the fire in the first place, even those who were the legal owners of those masters. Instead, it was The New York Times who broke the story, which prompted artists like Hole, Soundgarden, and Tom Petty’s estate to file lawsuits against Universal. According to Rolling Stone, as part of the legal proceedings, these artists asked for “a complete list of damaged records.” Universal has now responded by confirming (via filed documents) that the master recordings of 19 artists were “either damaged or destroyed” in the fire.


Who are the lucky artists who found out their works are fried to a crisp? In addition to Nirvana, Soundgarden, Slayer, R.E.M., and Elton John, victims include …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Bryan Adams, David Baerwald, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Eat World, Les Paul, Peter Frampton, Michael McDonald, Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, Suzanne Vega, The Surfaris, White Zombie, and Y&T.

...


The original masters to Nirvana’s Nevermind are believed to be “gone forever”, as is the majority of Beck’s music

https://consequenceofsound.net/2020/02/u...en-slayer/
I was in a horror-comedy called BLACK HOLLER. It's now on Prime Video. Check it out!
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#15
Wow. That both a.) sucks, and b.) was pretty fucking horribly handled by Universal!
If you're happy, you're not paying attention.

Originally Posted by JacknifeJohnny: 
Glad that you guys worked that out amongst yourselves.

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#16
Speaking of music industry fires...

Quote:Worldwide vinyl record supply threatened by “devastating” fire at lacquer manufacturer
Third Man Records' Ben Blackwell says the loss "will affect EVERYONE"

A catastrophic fire at the Banning, California manufacturing and storage facility of Apollo Masters may put the booming global vinyl record manufacturing industry at risk. Apollo made the lacquer used in the production of master discs, from which commercial vinyl records are made, as well as the styli used in the pressing process.

The blaze tore through the facilities on Thursday, February 6th. While no employees were injured, the fire left the facility entirely destroyed. A note on Apollo Masters’ website reads, “We are uncertain of our future at this point and are evaluating options as we try to work through this difficult time.”
[cont]
I used to be with "it", but then they changed what "it" was. Now, what I'm with isn't "it", and what's "it" seems weird and scary to me.   -Grandpa Simpson
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#17
It's one thing, I think, to lose the masters for all-time classic albums that have already been re-re-re-re-remastered to the nth degree and the results of all those sold on digital media that are easily duplicated and backed up at many sites across the world. But man, for unreleased material to be lost for all time like that...ugh.
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#18
The thing about that "nth degree" is that it keeps advancing. New technologies have the potential to bring out more and more nuance and detail, just so long as those masters exist.
"I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on Earth."--Steve McQueen
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#19
More importantly, they are THE masters. The genuine article. You couldn't find a better source... well, now you literally can't find THE source.
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