Eminem, Tupac & 50 Cent's Masters Destroyed In Massive 2008 Fire

Brenda Watkins
June 12, 2019

It contained the master recordings from an array of artists spanning over 60 years and a variety of genres. Other master recordings reportedly lost in the flames include offerings from Bobby (Blue) Bland, B.B. King, Ike Turner, the Four Tops, Quincy Jones, Burt Bacharach, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, the Police, Sting, George Strait, Steve Earle, R.E.M., Janet Jackson, Eric B. and Rakim, New Edition, Bobby Brown, Guns N' Roses, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Sonic Youth, No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails, Snoop Dogg, Nirvana and many more. That means the most sonically rich versions of the songs that went up in flames-not to mention any unreleased music or multitrack recordings containing, say, an isolated drum line or piano melody-are irretrievably gone.

Almost all of Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly's masters may have been lost in the 24 hours it took the fire department to control the fire, according to the Times report, which cites litigation and company documents that contrast UMG's public statements about the extent of the damage. Other songs from lesser-known artists signed to the many labels UMG swept up might be gone entirely if lower-quality copies of their music weren't stored elsewhere.

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. At the time, however, the entertainment industry heavy-hitter downplayed the damage.

According to the Times, however, the fire also destroyed an archive home to about 500,000 master recordings, a.k.a. original audio recordings that all future copies are based on.

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A 2008 fire at Universal Studios in Hollywood destroyed scores and master tapes of approximately 500,000 albums and singles that shaped music history, a New York Times investigation has revealed.

The fire broke out on June 1, 2008 during maintenance on the roof of one of the studio's lots. "It's a secret I'm ashamed to have been a part of".

UMG is pushing back against The New York Times Magazine's account of the fire.

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