Tupac Shakur, Eminem, 50 Cent Master Recordings Destroyed in 2008 Fire

Brunilde Fioravanti
Giugno 12, 2019

At the time, media outlets reported on the damage to the King Kong theme park attraction and warehouse's "video vault", but not to the sound-recordings library, a real treasure trove that was nearly entirely destroyed. It contained the master recordings from an array of artists spanning over 60 years and a variety of genres. Master music recordings are the original recordings from which all subsequent copies are derived.

Of the artists that lost masters in the fire are Aretha Franklin, whose first recorded appearances are gone forever, Buddy Holly, who lost almost his entire catalog, and Etta James, who lost her hit single "At Last". 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.

The fire broke out on June 1, 2008 during maintenance on the roof of one of the studio's lots.

The magazine has obtained a 2009 confidential report estimating that about 500,000 song titles were lost, including: masters of recordings by Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland. The report, titled "The Day Music Burned", details the possible extent of damage caused by the flames, including the loss of an estimated 500,000 song titles, some dating as far back as the 1940s. "It's a secret I'm ashamed to have been a part of".

Universal Studios officials reportedly kept the damage hush-hush at the time, saying that nothing that had been lost was the sole copy of a work.

As Adam Block, former president of Legacy Recordings, explained to the Times, a master is the "truest capture of a piece of recorded music", and is used as the original source for all future recordings and copies.

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

Over a decade ago, there was a devastating fire at Universal Studios in Hollywood.

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