Fallout From 2008 Fire Ignites Trouble For UMG

Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic believes the band’s Nevermind masters were lost in the blaze

On June 1, 2008, flames consumed the backlot of Universal Studios Hollywood, destroying countless video and television images and, as recently reported, hundreds of masters by major artists like Tupac, Sheryl Crow, Elton John and more.

On June 3, 2008, The New York Times reported on the fire, which was then believed to have burned only a “vault full of video and television images,” with initial confusion stemming from the lot’s categorical title of “video vault.” Universal Studios executives claimed that “in no case was the destroyed material the only copy of a work.” On June 11 of this year, the New York Times‘ Jody Rosen reported that the fire also destroyed hundreds of master recordings.

On June 25, the Times published a follow-up article under the headline of “Here Are Hundreds of More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire.” The article includes a list of over 700 hundred artists whose work burned in the fire. 

Rosen’s reporting includes an interview with 50-year-old Randy Aronson, who says 2,400 square feet of the warehouse contained historically significant music owned by UMG. Aronson acted as senior director of vault operations for 25 years at UMG before the fire. He oversaw UMG’s original masters and other recordings dating from the 1940s to the 2000s.

By Aronson’s assessment, UMG recovered only a fifth of the recordings lost with “Project Phoenix,” a restoration attempt that involved a search for duplicate copies. UMG pulled the project after two years of sweeping their vaults. UMG now plans to launch a second restoration project to comb their vaults globally. 

Many artists have expressed outrage that it took 11 years for UMG to detail the magnitude of its loss. Artists John Waire, Joe Ely, and others filed a class-action lawsuit that recognizes the company’s denial of notices to reclaim rights to their music under the Copyright Act of 1976. 

How everything will shake out is to be determined, but the revelation is already affecting UMG’s value, as parent company Vivendi has since paused its plans to sell the company.

Artists affected by the UMG fire: 

38 Special

50 Cent

Colonel Abrams

Johnny Ace

Bryan Adams

Nat Adderley

Aerosmith

Rhett Akins

Manny Albam

Lorez Alexandria

Gary Allan

Red Allen

Steve Allen

The Ames Brothers

Gene Ammons

Bill Anderson

Jimmy Anderson

John Anderson

The Andrews Sisters

Lee Andrews & the Hearts

Paul Anka

Adam Ant

Toni Arden

Joan Armatrading

Louis Armstrong

Asia

Asleep at the Wheel

Audioslave

Patti Austin

Average White Band

Hoyt Axton

Albert Ayler

Burt Bacharach

Joan Baez

Razzy Bailey

Chet Baker

Florence Ballard

Hank Ballard

Gato Barbieri

Baja Marimba Band

Len Barry

Count Basie

Fontella Bass

The Beat Farmers

Sidney Bechet and His Orchestra

Beck

Captain Beefheart

Archie Bell & the Drells

Vincent Bell

Bell Biv Devoe

Louie Bellson

Don Bennett

Joe Bennett and the Sparkletones

David Benoit

George Benson

Berlin

Elmer Bernstein and His Orchestra

Chuck Berry

Nuno Bettencourt

Stephen Bishop

Blackstreet

Art Blakey

Hal Blaine

Bobby (Blue) Bland

Mary J. Blige

Blink 182

Blues Traveler

Eddie Bo

Pat Boone

Boston

Connee Boswell

Eddie Boyd

Jan Bradley

Owen Bradley Quintet

Oscar Brand

Bob Braun

Walter Brennan

Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats

Teresa Brewer

Edie Brickell & New Bohemians

John Brim

Lonnie Brooks

Big Bill Broonzy and Washboard Sam

Brothers Johnson

Bobby Brown

Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown

Lawrence Brown

Les Brown

Marion Brown

Marshall Brown

Mel Brown

Michael Brown

Dave Brubeck

Jimmy Buffett

Carol Burnett

T-Bone Burnett

Dorsey Burnette

Johnny Burnette

Busta Rhymes

Terry Callier

Cab Calloway

The Call

Glen Campbell

Captain and Tennille

Captain Sensible

Irene Cara

Belinda Carlisle

Carl Carlton

Eric Carmen

Hoagy Carmichael

Kim Carnes

Karen Carpenter

Richard Carpenter

The Carpenters

Barbara Carr

Betty Carter

Benny Carter

The Carter Family

Peter Case

Alvin Cash

Mama Cass

Bobby Charles

Ray Charles

Chubby Checker

The Checkmates Ltd.

Cheech & Chong

Cher

Don Cherry

Mark Chesnutt

The Chi-Lites

Eric Clapton

Petula Clark

Roy Clark

Gene Clark

The Clark Sisters

Merry Clayton

Jimmy Cliff

Patsy Cline

Rosemary Clooney

Wayne Cochran

Joe Cocker

Ornette Coleman

Gloria Coleman

Mitty Collier

Jazzbo Collins

Judy Collins

Colosseum

Alice Coltrane

John Coltrane

Colours

Common

Cookie and the Cupcakes

Barbara Cook

Rita Coolidge

Stewart Copeland

The Corsairs

Dave “Baby” Cortez

Bill Cosby

Don Costa

Clifford Coulter

David Crosby

Crosby & Nash

Johnny Cougar (aka John Cougar Mellencamp)

Counting Crows

Coverdale•Page

Warren Covington

Deborah Cox

James “Sugar Boy” Crawford

Crazy Otto

Marshall Crenshaw

The Crew-Cuts

Sonny Criss

David Crosby

Bob Crosby

Bing Crosby

Sheryl Crow

Rodney Crowell

Pablo Cruise

The Crusaders

Xavier Cugat

The Cuff Links

Tim Curry

The Damned

Danny & the Juniors

Rodney Dangerfield

Bobby Darin

Helen Darling

David + David

Mac Davis

Richard Davis

Sammy Davis Jr.

Chris de Burgh

Lenny Dee

Jack DeJohnette

The Dells

The Dell-Vikings

Sandy Denny

Sugar Pie DeSanto

The Desert Rose Band

Dennis DeYoung

Neil Diamond

Bo Diddley

Difford & Tilbrook

Dillard & Clark

The Dixie Hummingbirds

Willie Dixon

DJ Shadow

Fats Domino

Jimmy Donley

Kenny Dorham

Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra

Lee Dorsey

The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra

Lamont Dozier

The Dramatics

The Dream Syndicate

Roy Drusky

Jimmy Durante

Deanna Durbin

The Eagles

Steve Earle

El Chicano

Danny Elfman

Yvonne Elliman

Duke Ellington

Cass Elliott

Joe Ely

John Entwistle

Eminem

Eric B. and Rakim

Gil Evans

Paul Evans

Betty Everett

Don Everly

Extreme

The Falcons

Harold Faltermeyer

Donna Fargo

Art Farmer

Freddie Fender

Ferrante & Teicher

Fever Tree

The Fifth Dimension

Ella Fitzgerald

Five Blind Boys Of Alabama

The Fixx

The Flamingos

King Floyd

The Flying Burrito Brothers

John Fogerty

Red Foley

Eddie Fontaine

The Four Aces

The Four Tops

Peter Frampton

Franke & the Knockouts

Aretha Franklin

The Rev. C.L. Franklin

The Free Movement

Glenn Frey

Lefty Frizzell

Curtis Fuller

Jerry Fuller

Lowell Fulson

Harvey Fuqua

Nelly Furtado

Hank Garland

Judy Garland

Erroll Garner

Jimmy Garrison

Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers

Gene Loves Jezebel

Barry Gibb

Georgia Gibbs

Terri Gibbs

Dizzy Gillespie

Gin Blossoms

Tompall Glaser

Tom Glazer

Whoopi Goldberg

Golden Earring

Paul Gonsalves

Benny Goodman

Dexter Gordon

Rosco Gordon

Lesley Gore

The Gospelaires

Teddy Grace

Grand Funk Railroad

Amy Grant

Earl Grant

The Grass Roots

Dobie Gray

Buddy Greco

Keith Green

Al Green

Jack Greene

Robert Greenidge

Lee Greenwood

Patty Griffin

Nanci Griffith

Dave Grusin

Guns N’ Roses

Buddy Guy

Buddy Hackett

Charlie Haden

Merle Haggard

Bill Haley and His Comets

Aaron Hall

Lani Hall

Chico Hamilton

George Hamilton IV

Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds

Marvin Hamlisch

Jan Hammer

Lionel Hampton

John Handy

Glass Harp

Slim Harpo

Richard Harris

Freddie Harts

Dan Hartman

Johnny Hartman

Coleman Hawkins

Dale Hawkins

Richie Havens

Roy Haynes

Head East

Heavy D. & the Boyz

Bobby Helms

Don Henley

Clarence “Frogman” Henry

Woody Herman and His Orchestra

Milt Herth and His Trio

John Hiatt

Al Hibbler

Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks

Monk Higgins

Jessie Hill

Earl Hines

Roger Hodgson

Hole

Billie Holiday

Jennifer Holliday

Buddy Holly

The Hollywood Flames

Eddie Holman

John Lee Hooker

Stix Hooper

Bob Hope

Paul Horn

Shirley Horn

Big Walter Horton

Thelma Houston

Rebecca Lynn Howard

Jan Howard

Freddie Hubbard

Humble Pie

Engelbert Humperdinck

Brian Hyland

The Impressions

The Ink Spots

Iron Butterfly

Burl Ives

Janet Jackson

Joe Jackson

Milt Jackson

Ahmad Jamal

Etta James

Elmore James

James Gang

Keith Jarrett

Jason & the Scorchers

Jawbreaker

Garland Jeffreys

Beverly Jenkins

Gordon Jenkins

The Jets

Jimmy Eat World

Jodeci

Johnnie Joe

The Joe Perry Project

Elton John

J.J. Johnson

K-Ci & JoJo

Al Jolson

Booker T. Jones

Elvin Jones

George Jones

Hank Jones

Jack Jones

Marti Jones

Quincy Jones

Rickie Lee Jones

Tamiko Jones

Tom Jones

Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five

The Jordanaires

Jurassic 5

Bert Kaempfert

Kitty Kallen & Georgie Shaw

The Kalin Twins

Bob Kames

Kansas

Boris Karloff

Sammy Kaye

Toby Keith

Gene Kelly

Chaka Khan

B.B. King

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Wayne King

The Kingsmen

The Kingston Trio

Roland Kirk

Eartha Kitt

John Klemmer

Klymaxx

Baker Knight

Chris Knight

Gladys Knight and the Pips

Krokus

Steve Kuhn

Rolf Kuhn

Joachim Kuhn

Patti LaBelle

L.A. Dream Team

Lambert, Hendricks & Ross

Frankie Lane

Denise LaSalle

Yusef Lateef

Steve Lawrence

Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gormé

Lafayette Leake

Brenda Lee

Laura Lee

Leapy Lee

Peggy Lee

Danni Leigh

The Lennon Sisters

J.B. Lenoir

Ramsey Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lewis

Meade Lux Lewis

Liberace

Lifehouse

Enoch Light

The Lightning Seeds

Limp Bizkit

Lisa Loeb

Little Axe and the Golden Echoes

Little Milton

Little River Band

Little Walter

Lobo

Nils Lofgren

Lone Justice

Guy Lombardo

Lord Tracy

The Louvin Brothers

Love

Patti Loveless

The Lovelites

Lyle Lovett

Love Unlimited

Loretta Lynn

L.T.D.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Gloria Lynne

Moms Mabley

Willie Mabon

Warner Mack

Dave MacKay & Vicky Hamilton

Miriam Makeba

The Mamas and the Papas

Melissa Manchester

Barbara Mandrell

Chuck Mangione

Shelly Manne

Wade Marcus

Mark-Almond

Pigmeat Markham

Steve Marriott

Wink Martindale

Groucho Marx

Hugh Masekela

Dave Mason

Jerry Mason

Matthews Southern Comfort

The Mavericks

Robert Maxwell

John Mayall

Percy Mayfield

Lyle Mays

Les McCann

Delbert McClinton

Robert Lee McCollum

Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr.

Van McCoy

Jimmy McCracklin

Jack McDuff

Reba McEntire

Gary McFarland

Barry McGuire

The McGuire Sisters

Duff McKagan

Maria McKee

McKendree Spring

Marian McPartland

Clyde McPhatter

Carmen McRae

Jack McVea

Meat Loaf

Memphis Slim

Sergio Mendes

Ethel Merman

Pat Metheny

Mighty Clouds of Joy

Roger Miller

Stephanie Mills

The Mills Brothers

Liza Minnelli

Charles Mingus

Joni Mitchell

Bill Monroe

Vaughn Monroe

Wes Montgomery

Buddy Montgomery

The Moody Blues

The Moonglows

Jane Morgan

Russ Morgan

Ennio Morricone

Mos Def

Martin Mull

Gerry Mulligan

Milton Nascimento

Johnny Nash

Nazareth

Nelson

Rick Nelson & the Stone Canyon Band

Ricky Nelson

Jimmy Nelson

Oliver Nelson

Aaron Neville

Art Neville

The Neville Brothers

New Edition

New Riders of the Purple Sage

Olivia Newton-John

Night Ranger

Leonard Nimoy

Nine Inch Nails

Nirvana

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

No Doubt

Ken Nordine

Red Norvo Sextet

Terri Nunn

The Oak Ridge Boys

Ric Ocasek

Phil Ochs

Hazel O’Connor

Chico O’Farrill

Oingo Boingo

The O’Jays

Spooner Oldham

One Flew South

Yoko Ono

Orleans

Jeffrey Osborne

The Outfield

Jackie Paris

Leo Parker

Junior Parker

Ray Parker Jr.

Dolly Parton

Les Paul

Freda Payne

Peaches & Herb

Ce Ce Peniston

The Peppermint Rainbow

Pepples

The Persuasions

Bernadette Peters

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

John Phillips

Webb Pierce

The Pinetoppers

Bill Plummer

Poco

The Pointer Sisters

The Police

Doc Pomus

Jimmy Ponder

Iggy Pop

Billy Preston

Lloyd Price

Louis Prima

Primus

Puddle Of Mudd

Red Prysock

Leroy Pullins

The Pussycat Dolls

Quarterflash

Queen Latifah

Sun Ra

The Radiants

Gerry Rafferty

Kenny Rankin

The Ray Charles Singers

The Ray-O-Vacs

The Rays

Dewey Redman

Della Reese

Martha Reeves

R.E.M.

Debbie Reynolds

Emitt Rhodes

Buddy Rich

Emil Richards

Dannie Richmond

Riders in the Sky

Stan Ridgway

Frazier River

Sam Rivers

Max Roach

Marty Roberts

Howard Roberts

The Roches

Chris Rock

Tommy Roe

Jimmy Rogers

Sonny Rollins

The Roots

Rose Royce

Jackie Ross

Doctor Ross

Rotary Connection

The Rover Boys

Roswell Rudd

Rufus and Chaka Khan

Otis Rush

Brenda Russell

Leon Russell

Pee Wee Russell

Russian Jazz Quartet

Mitch Ryder

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Joe Sample

Pharoah Sanders

The Sandpipers

Gary Saracho

Shirley Scott

Tom Scott

Dawn Sears

Neil Sedaka

Jeannie Seely

Semisonic

Charlie Sexton

Marlena Shaw

Tupac Shakur

Archie Shepp

Dinah Shore

Ben Sidran

Silver Apples

Shel Silverstein

The Simon Sisters

Ashlee Simpson

The Simpsons

Zoot Sims

P.F. Sloan

Smash Mouth

Kate Smith

Keely Smith

Tab Smith

Patti Smyth

Snoop Dogg

Valaida Snow

Jill Sobule

Soft Machine

Sonic Youth

Sonny and Cher

The Soul Stirrers

Soundgarden

Eddie South

Southern Culture on the Skids

Spinal Tap

Banana Splits

The Spokesmen

Squeeze

Jo Stafford

Chris Stamey

Joe Stampley

Michael Stanley

Kay Starr

Stealers Wheel

Steely Dan

Gwen Stefani

Steppenwolf

Cat Stevens

Billy Stewart

Sting

Sonny Stitt

Shane Stockton

George Strait

The Strawberry Alarm Clock

Strawbs

Styx

Sublime

Yma Sumac

Andy Summers

The Sundowners

Supertramp

The Surfaris

Sylvia Syms

Gábor Szabó

The Tams

Grady Tate

t.A.T.u.

Koko Taylor

Billy Taylor

Charlie Teagarden

Temple of the Dog

Clark Terry

Tesla

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Robin Thicke

Toots Thielemans

B.J. Thomas

Irma Thomas

Rufus Thomas

Hank Thompson

Lucky Thompson

Big Mama Thornton

Three Dog Night

The Three Stooges

Tiffany

Mel Tillis

Tommy & the Tom Toms

Mel Tormé

The Tragically Hip

The Trapp Family Singers

Ralph Tresvant

Ernest Tubb

The Tubes

Tanya Tucker

Tommy Tucker

The Tune Weavers

Ike Turner

Stanley Turrentine

Conway Twitty

McCoy Tyner

Phil Upchurch

Michael Utley

Leroy Van Dyke

Gino Vannelli

Van Zant

Billy Vaughan

Suzanne Vega

Vega Brothers

Veruca Salt

The Vibrations

Bobby Vinton

Voïvod

Porter Wagoner

The Waikikis

Rufus Wainwright

Rick Wakeman

Jerry Jeff Walker

The Wallflowers

Joe Walsh

Wang Chung

Clara Ward

Warrior Soul

Washboard Sam

Was (Not Was)

War

Justine Washington

The Watchmen

Muddy Waters

Jody Watley

Johnny “Guitar” Watson

The Weavers

The Dream Weavers

Ben Webster

Weezer

We Five

George Wein

Lenny Welch

Lawrence Welk

Kitty Wells

Mae West

Barry White

Michael White

Slappy White

Whitesnake

White Zombie

The Who

Whycliffe

Kim Wilde

Don Williams

Jody Williams

John Williams

Larry Williams

Lenny Williams

Leona Williams

Paul Williams

Roger Williams

Sonny Boy Williamson

Walter Winchell

Kai Winding

Johnny Winter

Wishbone Ash

Jimmy Witherspoon

Howlin’ Wolf

Bobby Womack

Lee Ann Womack

Phil Woods

Wrecks-N-Effect

O.V. Wright

Bill Wyman

Rusty York

Faron Young

Neil Young

Young Black Teenagers

Y & T

Rob Zombie