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

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

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

According to a report The New York Times published Tuesday (June 11), works from Eminem, 50 Cent and Tupac Shakur were among the master recordings destroyed in the fire. Aretha Franklin's early work.

Hundreds of firefighters fought off the inferno, dousing it with foam retardant and water from a nearby lake.

But it was no use. However, according to legal and internal documents seen by The New York Times, UMG put the number of music tapes destroyed when flames reached Building 6197 at about 175,000.

At the time, Universal downplayed the fire, likely trying to reduce public embarrassment and avoid angering artists or fans.

The UMG is now disputing the severity of the damage as detailed in the New York Times piece. After all, the blaze hit a movie studio backlot - and those rarely contain anything that can't be replaced.

The blaze, which gutted a popular King Kong attraction and a swath of the studio's fabled outdoor lot, also destroyed almost all the master recordings stored there in a Universal Music Group archive, a loss that has long gone undisclosed, the magazine reported on Tuesday.

By the time the fire was done, nearly half a million antique tapes were destroyed.

Numerous recordings were master copies - the studio tapes from which new generations of CDs, vinyl and digital copies can be generated.

Though the fire was widely reported at the time, the head of Universal Studios, Ron Meyer, said there had been no major losses.

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A master recording, or "master", as it is often called, is the original sound recording of a song. Without those tapes, there's no opportunity to properly remaster music for new formats. In the process, thousands of recordings-possible 500,000 songs or more-were destroyed.

More modern masters were also lost as well, by everyone from Eric Clapton and Elton John, to the Eagles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Janet Jackson, Nirvana and Tupac Shakur.

Not only that, but so have thousands upon thousands of masters by obscure artists.

A master is the one-of-a-kind original recording of a piece of music and the source used to create any other recording.

As the Times report, some have tried to calculate the loss at over US$150 million.

Of course, while UMG would publicly disagree with the investigation's assertion that the fire, "was the biggest disaster in the history of the music business", the company does seem to understand the gravity of the situation.

The "Nevermind" masters were lost in the 2008 fire.

"Sonically, masters can be stunning in their capturing of an event in time", he said.

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