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(Credit: Pinguino K)


Nirvana, Beck, Sonic Youth and Elton John recordings lost in major Universal fire

Original master recordings of 19 artists have been damaged or lost in the devastating fire that occurred at a Universal Music Group studio.

On June 1, 2008, a fierce blaze broke out on the backlot of Universal Studios Hollywood in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. The fire, which was started after a worker, who was using a blowtorch to warm asphalt shingles at the time, failed to check that all the areas had cooled prior to leaving the site.

Firefighters tackled the blaze for 12 hours before finally extinguishing it. The result, however, ended up the complete devastation of a three-acre portion of the Universal backlot which housed 40,000 to 50,000 archived digital video and film copies and 118,000 to 175,000 audio master tapes belonging to Universal Music Group.

While it was often speculated that major artists had been affected by the blaze, the names of the musicians whose work was destroyed were never released. Now, however, Rolling Stone has acquired a legal document that allegedly reveals the likes of Nirvana, Beck, Sonic Youth, Elton John, and 15 other internationally famous artists who have seen their masters lost.

As part of the ongoing lawsuit. RS claim that the likes of Bryan Adams, David Baerwald, Jimmy Eat World, Les Paul, Peter Frampton, Michael McDonald, Slayer, Suzanne Vega, Surfaris, White Zombie and Y&T have been affected.

Lawyers representing the musicians are pushing Universal Music Group for information about the insurance claim made that referenced “17,000 unique artist names on the list of purportedly lost original music recordings.”

Howard King, one of the lawyers for the artists, said in a statement: “Universal claimed 17,000 artists were affected by the fire when they were suing for damages. Now that they face a lawsuit by their artists, they claim a mere 19 artists were affected. This discrepancy is inexplicable.”

It is believed that the master tapes from the aforementioned 19 artists include a variety of different studio and rare live recordings but some of the specific details are yet to emerge.