Universal Fire
The 2008 Universal Lot Fire [ pinguino kCC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

UMG Admits That Master Recordings By Nirvana, Beck, Elton John Among Those Damaged In 2008 Blaze

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LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — While the big news about Universal this week was their profits and future IPO plans, the label giant also conceded that master recording by artists such as Nirvana, Beck, Elton John, R.E.M., Sheryl Crow were among those damaged in a destructive warehouse fire at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2008.

The revelation, which came in the latest court filing by UMG in an ongoing class-action suit, confirms that the masters were either destroyed or damaged in the blaze, Pitchfork reported. Worse, some of the original master recordings lack replacement copies, including music from Sonic Youth and Les Paul.

UMG also noted that recordings by Elton John were affected but the full extent of the damage has yet-to-be-determined, Pitchfork reported.

However, UMG did reveal that they do have copies for recordings of Nirvana, Jimmy Eat World, and R.E.M. that were damaged in the fire.

The losses in the fire, which were first reported by the New York Times in June 2019, were initially downplayed by UMG.

In a statement to Pitchfork, an attorney representing UMG said: “The plaintiffs’ lawyers have already been informed that none of the masters for four of their five clients were affected by the fire — and the one other client was alerted years earlier and UMG and the artist, working together, were still able to locate a high-quality source for a reissue project. Recognizing the lack of merit of their original claims, plaintiffs’ attorneys are now willfully and irresponsibly conflating lost assets (everything from safeties and videos to artwork) with original album masters, in a desperate attempt to inject substance into their meritless legal case. Over the last eight months, UMG’s archive team has diligently and transparently responded to artist inquiries, and we will not be distracted from completing our work, even as the plaintiffs’ attorneys pursue these baseless claims.”

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