June 14

Classic Country Recordings Destroyed in Universal Studios Fire

Country music history has lost a lot in what is considered to be the biggest disaster in the history of the music business. In a new tell-all report released by the New York Times, it was revealed that the 2008 Universal Studios fire lost more than what was publicly reported, and this included irreplaceable master tapes and records from some of the country’s biggest names.

Country, Country Music, Fire, Devastation, music, history, music history
via Juan Guerra/Associated Press/ The New York Times

Country Music History Destroyed in Devastation

A devastating fire swept the Universal Studios backlot in Hollywood, California in the early hours of the 1st of June, 2008. At that time, Universal claimed that the damage the fire caused was ‘relatively minor,’ and was ultimately shrugged off. The company reported that it was only a vault of video and television media that was destroyed, along with only a portion of the studio tour.

Country, Country Music, Fire, Devastation, music, history, music history
via Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press/ The New York Times

According to one of the reports that the Times did during that time, there was no mention of a music archive in the devastation. However, that was a little passable since Universal Studios was not known to have an archive dedicated to music in the first place.

Despite this, there were a few journalists who are aware of the existence of this archive and has made the public aware of its existence. Nikki Finke of Deadline.com noted that there were thousands of historical records that were stored in one of the warehouses, including original recording masters from Decca, MCA, and ABC.

A wide range of momentous music was lost, from Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters, to Judy Garland, and The Carpenters. It was also recorded that country artists such as Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells, Loretta Lynn, George Strait, George Jones, and Merle Haggard are also among the artists who had materials that were burned down together with the buildings in the disaster.

It was also noted that Aretha Franklin’s first-ever commercial tapes, of which she recorded when she was a teenager, is most likely to be among the long list of destroyed pieces of history.

Country, Country Music, Fire, Devastation, music, history, music history
via Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press/ The New York Times

Ultimately, Universal Music Group downplayed the loss of all the priceless music pieces in the public eye but in a recent interview with Variety, UMG has responded to the recent Times article.

“While there are constraints preventing us from publicly addressing some of the details of the fire that occurred at NBC Universal Studios facility more than a decade ago, the incident – while deeply unfortunate – never affected the availability of the commercially released music nor impacted artists’ compensation.”


Fire, George Jones, George Strait, kitty wells, Loretta Lynn, merle haggard, Patsy Cline

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