The original report from 2009 underestimated the extent of the damage caused by the fires by far - it was totaled that the "assets destroyed" was 118,230, with a monetary estimate of $150 million in losses. The fire spread to the "video vault", a 22,320-square-foot warehouse that stored film reels but also housed a sound-recordings library containing master recordings from the many labels under the UMG umbrella.
The artists affected by the fire are said to include Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, and Judy Garland.
The Times reports the flames likely swallowed up the first commercially released material by Aretha Franklin, recorded when she was still a teenager, as well as songs like "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley & His Comets and "At Last" by Etta James. More contemporary names such as Janet Jackson, Guns N' Roses, Mary J. Blige, No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails, Snoop Dogg, Nirvana, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, 50 Cent and the Roots are also cited in the report. Universal Studios told the public that the vault only contained old videotapes.
Universal Studios officials reportedly kept the damage hush-hush at the time, saying that nothing that had been lost was the sole copy of a work.
Over a decade ago, there was a devastating fire at Universal Studios in Hollywood. But the exact nuances of the high notes, the bass riffs, the vibrato and cymbals preserved on the master recordings that did burn that June day-those have gone quiet. With multiple locations, the possibility exists that duplicate recordings or flat lays exist for at least some of the songs.
As Adam Block, former president of Legacy Recordings, explained to the Times, a master is the "truest capture of a piece of recorded music", and is used as the original source for all future recordings and copies.
EW reached out to artists reportedly affected by the 2008 fire for comment.
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