Bands Had No Idea That Their Music Was Destroyed in 2008 Fire

The list of artists whose recordings were lost in the fire include Aretha Franklin

But earlier this week, The New York Times published a report revealing that the 2008 fire burned hundreds of thousands of master recordings of genre-spanning, legendary music from the late 1940s to the early '80s as well as digital formats and hard drives from the late '80s up through the early 2000s.

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.

Variety reports that Universal Music Group is disputing the severity of the damage as detailed in the New York Times piece.

Still, the Times reports that a 2009 internal report estimated that 500,000 songs had been lost.

The original recordings include some of the greatest musicians of the 20th century including Ray Charles, B.B. King, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, Sonny and Cher, Joni Mitchell, Al Green, Elton John and Eric Clapton. Aretha Franklin's first recordings, Chuck Berry's recordings for Chess Records, and the Decca Records collection masters of works by Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Duke Ellington are all believed to have been lost in the fire. Among the recordings lost - many of which may have been on original master tapes - were songs from NIRVANA, SOUNDGARDEN, NINE INCH NAILS, GUNS N' ROSES, BECK, NO DOUBT, AEROSMITH, R.E.M. and more.


R.E.M.'s Twitter account, meanwhile, released a statement, saying: "REM HQ is receiving inquiries from many people concerned about the New York Times article on the Universal Music fire 11 years ago".

"The story contains numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident and affected assets", Universal said in a statement". The company claimed at the time that only some attractions and an unimportant video archive were destroyed, but the NYT claims that the blaze actually torched a Universal Music Group sound library, in what is described as "the biggest disaster in the history of the music business".

In its statement, UMG said it was proud of its efforts in music preservation and listed various initiatives it had spearheaded or supported.

Following the article's publication, REM said they were "trying to get good information to find out what happened and the effect on the band's music, if any".

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