Artists React To Report On Fire That Destroyed Master Recordings


Music acts are reacting this week to a report about what has been described as “the biggest disaster in the history of the music business.”

According to The New York Times Magazine, a June 2008 fire at the Universal Studios backlot in Hollywood destroyed as many as half-a-million master recordings – from Buddy Holly and Etta James to Janet Jackson and Eminem.

The long list of artists affected includes Canada’s Joni Mitchell.

The NYT Magazine claimed Universal Music Group (UMG) sought to keep the extent of the loss under wraps. In a statement to Reuters, UMG admitted the fire was “deeply unfortunate” but said the Times report contains “numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstanding of the scope of the incident.”

“Oh my Lord...this makes me sick to my stomach,” singer Sheryl Crow tweeted. “Why???? ...and shame on those involved in the coverup.”

Asia keyboardist Geoffrey Downes tweeted: “This might explain why nobody can find the original Asia album masters. Very sad, and UMG have kept it quiet for more than 10 years.”

Tom Dumont of No Doubt tweeted a link to the NYT Magazine article and wrote: “Pretty crazy.”

Questlove of The Roots also shared a link. “For everyone asking why Do You Want More & Illdelph Halflife wont get reissue treatment,” he tweeted.

A tweet from R.E.M. reads: “We are trying to get good information to find out what happened and the effect on the band’s music, if any.”

Asked by a fan on Twitter if Nirvana’s Nevermind masters were destroyed in the fire, founding band member Krist Novoselic responded: “I think they are gone forever.”

Steely Dan manager Irving Azoff said in a statement that the group knew some of its masters were missing but never got “a plausible explanation.”

A rep for Hole told Pitchfork it was “not aware” the band’s tapes were destroyed until the article came out.

UMG said the fire “never affected the availability of the commercially released music nor impacted artists’ compensation.”