Just over 11 years ago, on June 1, 2008, a massive fire made its way to Universal Studios Hollywood’s archive building, and thousands of hours of priceless master recordings from the most influential artists of all time were reportedly lost forever.
According to a report The New York Times published Tuesday (June 11), works from Eminem, 50 Cent and Tupac Shakur were among the master recordings destroyed in the fire. If this report is true, that means the masters for every Em from The Slim Shady LP (1999) to Encore (2004) gone forever. Same for every album recorded by Shakur or 50 up to that point.
The Times report claims that an internal memo reported that 500,000 master recordings were lost in the fire. Other master recordings reportedly lost in the flames include offerings from Bobby (Blue) Bland, B.B. King, Ike Turner, the Four Tops, Quincy Jones, Burt Bacharach, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, 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 and many more.
While reporters for The Times appear to have gone through great lengths to research this matter, one rep for Universal Music Group told Variety that the publication’s reports include “numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident and affected assets.”
The statement also says that the publication “conveniently ignores the tens of thousands of back catalog recordings that we have already issued in recent years – including master-quality, high-resolution, audiophile versions of many recordings that the story claims were ‘destroyed.'”