The fire started after overnight maintenance workers used blow torches to fix the roof of a building on one of Universal Studios' many movie sets. The New York Times itself referred to the fire as "the biggest disaster in the history of the music business", citing internal reports, legal documents and the recollection of Aronson and others who were there.
Universal Music Group would not confirm the number of actual losses due to the fire, nor would it confirm the status of masters for specific artists. The loss included Aretha Franklin's first recordings, Etta James's 'At Last, Chucky Berry's recordings for Chess Records, and masters from Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland.
"Almost all" of Buddy Holly's masters were lost, as were most of John Coltrane's.
"While there are constraints preventing us from publicly addressing some of the details of the fire that occurred at NBCUniversal Studios facility more than a decade ago, the incident-while deeply unfortunate-never affected the availability of the commercially released music, nor impacted artists' compensation", a statement from the company reads.More news: Knicks still ready to make push for Kevin Durant signing
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"There were recordings from dozens of record companies that had been absorbed by Universal over the years, including several of the most important labels of all time", writers journalist Jody Rosen in the piece.
"The story contains numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident and affected assets".
"Questlove of the Roots took to social media, sharing the link to the article and adding, "For everyone asking why [the group's 1990s albums] 'Do You Want More" & 'Illdelph Halflife" wont get reissue treatment.
The reports claim that at the time of the fire in 2008, Universal stated it was only a video vault and King Kong attraction which was damaged in the fire, whereas previously confidential papers have now revealed the shocking extent of the damage to music recordings too.
In its statement, UMG said it was proud of its efforts in music preservation and listed various initiatives it had spearheaded or supported.