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It’s being called the biggest disaster in the music business — we’re just now learning that a fire 11 years ago this month wiped out a significant chunk of music history.
According to an investigation by The New York Times Magazine, more than 100,000 master recordings owned by Universal Music Group, spanning from the 1940s to the 2000s, were wiped out when fire raged through Universal Studios in Los Angeles on June 1, 2008. The report says that at the time, Universal significantly downplayed the damage.
Among the recordings lost were most of Buddy Holly‘s masters and, very likely, such historic singles as Bill Haley and His Comets‘ “Rock Around the Clock,” Etta James‘ “At Last” and The Kingsmen‘s “Louie Louie.” Other artists whose master recordings were destroyed include Chuck Berry, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Neil Diamond, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, The Eagles, Aerosmith, Joni Mitchell, B.B. King, The Four Tops, Cat Stevens, Al Green, Barry White, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Police, R.E.M., Janet Jackson, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana and Eminem.
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