WASHINGTON DC – A raging fire in 2008 at Hollywood’s Universal Studios damaged master recordings of over 60 years of irreplaceable audio works.
The irreplaceable music belonged to several of the most renowned names in international music and showbiz.
Music critics have called these findings “the biggest disaster in the history of the music business.”
The missing treasures include original one-of-a-kind recordings of legendary jazz stars such as Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington to the more recently acclaimed artists that include 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, and Sheryl Crow.
Universal in 2008 had stated that the fires at the studio and theme park had only burned a King Kong attraction and a room that stored copies of old movies and TV shows.
But according to an article in The New York Times Magazine, citing Universal company documents, a vault of master tapes and discs was completely destroyed when firefighters decided to dismantle a warehouse to make it easier to fight the flames.
While copies of the destroyed recordings probably do exist on other audio formats such as Compact Discs (CDs), cassette tapes, and mini discs, those existing copies were all taken from the irreplaceable masters that got demolished in the Universal inferno.
The lost material is priceless. Other lost recordings include legends such as Judy Garland, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, and John Coltrane among others.
Music experts fear that some of Aretha Franklin’s initial recordings also probably went up in smoke. Buddy Holly’s master recordings were also scorched.
Irreplaceable audio works by Sir. Elton John, Eric Clapton, Ray Charles, B.B, King, and The Police all went up in smoke.
The NY Times says other recordings for which no copies are known to exist, including less popular and famous gospel, blues, country, and pop artists are gone for good with no evidence they ever existed.
The NYT article says Universal executives wanted to minimize news of the loss to avoid an outcry from the public and lawsuits from the artists whose work was destroyed and their heirs.