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The day the music burned.

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  • The day the music burned.

    Never heard about this one till I read it today. It was kept conveniently quiet. If I were one of these artists that lost their entire masters collection, I'd be pissed.
    The article did wsay thay had digital backups to allot of it but that's not the same as the tape originals.

    Universal Studios Hollywood on Sunday, June 1, 2008

    Apparently maintenance workers had repaired the roof of a building on the set, using blowtorches to heat asphalt shingles. They finished the job at 3 a.m. and, following protocol, kept watch over the site for another hour to ensure that the shingles had cooled. But the roof remained hot, and some 40 minutes after the workers left, one of the hot spots flared up.
    Among the incinerated Decca masters were recordings by titanic figures in American music: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland. The tape masters for Billie Holiday’s Decca catalog were most likely lost in total. The Decca masters also included recordings by such greats as Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five and Patsy Cline.

    The fire most likely claimed most of Chuck Berry’s Chess masters and multitrack masters, a body of work that constitutes Berry’s greatest recordings. The destroyed Chess masters encompassed nearly everything else recorded for the label and its subsidiaries, including most of the Chess output of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Etta James, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy and Little Walter. Also very likely lost were master tapes of the first commercially released material by Aretha Franklin, recorded when she was a young teenager performing in the church services of her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, who made dozens of albums for Chess and its sublabels.

    Virtually all of Buddy Holly’s masters were lost in the fire. Most of John Coltrane’s Impulse masters were lost, as were masters for treasured Impulse releases by Ellington, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Alice Coltrane, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders and other jazz greats. Also apparently destroyed were the masters for dozens of canonical hit singles, including Bill Haley and His Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock,” Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats’ “Rocket 88,” Bo Diddley’s “Bo Diddley/I’m A Man,” Etta James’s “At Last,” the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie” and the Impressions’ “People Get Ready.”
    Even more than the 1990 backlot fire, the New Jersey incident shook Aronson’s assumptions about how, and where, UMG should secure its masters. Aronson says he urged UMG to abandon the backlot, shifting the recordings to a safer location. Eventually, Aronson says, a compromise was reached: Most of the session reels and multitracks stored on the backlot, about 250,000 tapes, were moved to the archive in Pennsylvania. This left approximately 120,000 masters — 175,000, if you accept Aronson’s estimate — in Building 6197. These were the recordings that burned on June 1, 2008.

    “I get why there was a feeling of safety,” Aronson says. “We had our own fire department. But still I look back on it and I wonder: What the [expletive] was anybody thinking putting a tape vault in an amusement park?”

    UMG began Project Phoenix in October 2008. The plan was to gather duplicates of recordings whose masters were lost. Those copies would then be digitally transferred to reconstitute the lost archive — albeit in sonically inferior form, with recordings generations removed from the true masters. UMG undertook a global hunt, searching for safety copies and other duplicates at a variety of locations in the United States and abroad. The project lasted two years and, by Aronson’s estimate, recovered perhaps a fifth of what had been lost. The recordings were transferred to Linear Tape-Open, or LTO, a tape format used for archiving digital data. Copies were placed in storage holds on both coasts: at an underground vault in Boyers, Pa., and a high-rise facility in Hollywood. Both vaults are run by Iron Mountain, the global information-management and storage giant.

    The list of destroyed single and album masters takes in titles by dozens of legendary artists, a genre-spanning who’s who of 20th- and 21st-century popular music. It includes recordings by Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, the Andrews Sisters, the Ink Spots, the Mills Brothers, Lionel Hampton, Ray Charles, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Clara Ward, Sammy Davis Jr., Les Paul, Fats Domino, Big Mama Thornton, Burl Ives, the Weavers, Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Bobby (Blue) Bland, B.B. King, Ike Turner, the Four Tops, Quincy Jones, Burt Bacharach, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, Sonny and Cher, the Mamas and the Papas, Joni Mitchell, Captain Beefheart, Cat Stevens, the Carpenters, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Al Green, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Elton John, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Buffett, the Eagles, Don Henley, Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Iggy Pop, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Barry White, Patti LaBelle, Yoko Ono, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 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, Soundgarden, Hole, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, 50 Cent and the Roots.

  • #2
    Iron Mountain is an amazing facility.


    • #3
      ^^ Yes I've heard about that. I've worked for many companies who store their files there. I believe its an old salt mine so the low humidity and cool temps are ideal for record storage. Music does wind up being stored there along with the means to play it back, but as the article states, its not like its a place you can retrieve files from on an on going basis. Once stored its expected to stay there permanently like a mummy in a pyramid. If you plan to remix music, buy and sell catalogs of music as with many of these huge music corporations, the music must be accessible.

      That tragedy does take the cake however. With all the stories of amusement parts being burned down or blown off the map by hurricanes, you'd think people in business would prefer a private vaulted building preferably with reinforced concrete walls maybe? I've been to several major recording companies in the past and the localized storage is typically excellent. This one must have been huge to have so many tape reels. Tape takes up allot of space, more then books in a library. 250,000 tapes, 120,000 masters and they had most of it moved supposedly. I'd love to hear what they got as an insurance claim.

      It almost sounds to me like a classic case of Italian Lightening. When the Mafia needed money they'd quietly clean out the contents of a building then burn up what appears to be valuable assets to get a bigger insurance check. Then the real contents are sold off at some later date when things have cooled down. I cant see anybody getting away with something this big however. Albeit many small recording companies did have ties to the Mafia using the studios and artists as a tax write off and money laundering scam. Intentional or not, someone got a big pay day, and you have what the cost. I value music as much as any painting in a museum and I like to know the company that owns that art is trustworthy enough to properly protect it.


      • #4
        Heartbreaking. Exact same "blowtorch" story as Notre Dame. "Coincidence"?
        Blowtorches seem to be destroying western civilization right now.


        • #5
          Too sad, I can't even read it.
          A '57 Classic, MIJ from USA parts.
          HCEG Existentialism: I buy guitars, therefore, I am.
          Well Dick, it's got a good beat, and I could dance to it, so I give it a 10!
          I have opinions of my own,strong opinions but I don't always agree with them.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Chordite View Post
            Heartbreaking. Exact same "blowtorch" story as Notre Dame. "Coincidence"?
            Blowtorches seem to be destroying western civilization right now.
            That's right, I remember that. Are roofers out to kill art and religion?

            I suspect that first incident where they had their roof smashed in required a roof repair. They went cheap with the liquid tar patch job because they were moving anyway. The budget workers didn't know any better to douse the roof with water and check for leaks when they were done which would have prevented any flare ups.


            • #7
              I tried to play some of my original tracks i had uploaded on to MySpace years ago the other week and none of my music would play. i could see the tracks and they were all listed and wot not but just would not play. so after a bit of investigating on Google i learned that any music uploaded before 2015 onto MySpace has been wiped lost or erased and apparently there is no way of retrieving it ,lots of people are complaining about the fact that original stuff they have recorded and uploaded to MySpace and have no other copys ,have lost that stuff forever,it makes you wonder how safe your music is on SoundCloud and bandcamp
              Last edited by catscurlyear; 06-13-2019, 03:25 PM.
              did you know that it is illegal to call an MP or a member of the "government ","L-I-A-R " while in the house of commons ,i wonder why?.we hear opposition shout rubbish and bah ,because legally rubbish is waste and bah is something a sheep does ,neither would stand up in court .


              • #8
                Originally posted by Chordite View Post
                Heartbreaking. Exact same "blowtorch" story as Notre Dame. "Coincidence"?
                Blowtorches seem to be destroying western civilization right now.
                Kind of like early Christian fanatics burned the Grand Library of Alexandria 😭
                How many guitarists does it take to screw in a lightbulb ? Five , one to screw it in , hit the switch and four to sit around bragging how much better they could have done it !!!! 😱👹😲


                • #9
                  Every time I even think about all of those priceless masters being lost, I feel like I'm going to be sick to my stomach...

                  And then on top of it, they lied to everyone about it...

                  Cue the lawsuits in 3, 2, 1...


                  "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."
                  - George Carlin

                  "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."
                  - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                  "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."
                  - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter