New Report Reveals Glen Campbell, Reba McEntire + Hundreds More Lost Masters in 2008 UMG Fire
As new information about the 2008 fire that destroyed master recordings owned and stored by Universal Music Group (UMG) continues to surface, music fans are getting a clearer picture of just how much devastation the blaze caused. A follow-up report by the New York Times has added hundreds of names to the already staggering list of artists affected.
Published Tuesday (June 25), the Times' new story by Jody Rosen, the writer of the original piece on the fire, offers a list of more than 700 additional artists -- on top of the more than 100 artists reported in the original story -- who had masters destroyed in the fire. The list is culled together from three separate lists compiled by UMG, and country artists from the Carter Family to George Strait are on the list. Readers can see below for a more in-depth look.
According to the Times, UMG may never be able to compile a complete list of the masters destroyed in the 2008 fire due to, as Rosen writes, "slapdash inventory practices." "UMG knew what labels’ masters had been stored in the vault; they know, broadly, which artists’ recordings had been on the shelves," he adds. "But the knowledge got fuzzier when it came down to individual albums or songs, especially given the presence in the vault of an indeterminate number of masters containing outtakes, demos and other recordings that were never commercially released."
In fact, even the Times' list is incomplete, and doesn't tell the full story for each artist listed. "It is not possible to assert definitively which masters were burned in the fire, nor can it be said categorically that all of these artists did in fact lose masters. It also cannot be determined exactly how many of the destroyed masters were primary-source originals," Rosen writes. "What can be said with certainty is that these are artists whose material UMG believed had been lost in the fire and whose recordings the company spent tens of millions of dollars trying to replace."
The destruction of artists' musical masters in the 2008 UMG fire was largely kept secret for more than a decade, not just from the public but from the artists themselves. The Times' report prompted a class-action lawsuit by Steve Earle and others. In addition, a BBC interview with Sheryl Crow sheds some light on the outrage among the affected artists, many of whom only found out about the cover-up through Rosen’s report.
It absolutely grieves me," Crow says. "It feels a little apocalyptic. I can't understand, first and foremost, how you could store anything in a vault that didn't have sprinklers. And secondly, I can't understand how you could make safeties [back-up copies] and have them in the same vault. I mean, what's the point? And thirdly, I can't understand how it's been 11 years. I mean, I don't understand the cover-up."
Country Artists Whose Masters Were Affected By the 2008 UMG Fire
Asleep at the Wheel
Owen Bradley Quintet
The Carter Family
Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers
George Hamilton IV
Jason & the Scorchers
Jerry Lee Lewis
The Louvin Brothers
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
The Oak Ridge Boys
Leroy Van Dyke
Jerry Jeff Walker
Lee Ann Womack
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