Two weeks ago, a fire broke out at the Universal Studios in Hollywood, 13 years to the day after another controversial blaze broke out at the same location. On June 2, 2014, a fire started when a worker blowtorching asphalt shingles left before ensuring no hotspots remained. It consumed the King Kong attraction, whose star had ‘banana-scented breath’. No loss then.
Universal quickly admitted it had lost archived films and TV show videos, but the company insisted it had duplicates of them all. So, no loss there.
It was only when the New York Times reported the following year that up to 175,000 analogue music master tapes had also been destroyed that Universal sheepishly admitted that much had been destroyed in the conflagration that took more than 500 firefighters to control. Universal had long since swallowed up many legendary labels and many artists were keen to know if their work was gone, among them Neil Young, Steve Earle, Tom Petty, and Les Paul.
Universal announced that the entire Chess and Impulse! label collections had been threatened but were safe, along with music by John Coltrane and Muddy Waters. But lost forever were original recordings by Bryan Adams, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Eat World, Slayer, White Zombie and post-1974 Elton John. No real loss then.
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