Recordings by Aerosmith, Nirvana, Elton John, Guns N' Roses and More Destroyed in Fire

June 12, 2019

In 2008, a fire erupted at one of the buildings at Universal Studios Hollywood. At the time, the company said that the only things destroyed in the blaze were the "King Kong" ride and a video vault that only contained copies of old films.

But according to The New York Times, the fire destroyed thousands of master audio recordings by some of the greatest artists in the world. 

On June 1st, 2008, maintenance workers were repairing the roof of a building on the set of New England Street by using blowtorches. The set is filled with many colonial-style buildings that were often used in films and television shows. While the workers followed procedure by waiting for the roof shingles to cool, a fire had sparked before 5AM, shortly after they left.

Evenutally, the fire reached Building 6197, a video vault that stored videotapes, film reels, and a massive library of master sound recordings by Universal Music Group.

After firefighters attempted to extinguish the fire by using water and flame-retardant foam, the decision was made to dismantle the building containing the vault in order to put out the fire more effectively.

As a result, the fire destroyed nearly all of the master recordings contained in the vault, which was estimated to be at approximately 500,000 song titles. Among those lost included recordings by jazz and early rock artists like Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Al Jolson, John Coltrane, Bing Crosby, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald Judy Garland, and Chuck Berry. 

The list of artists affected by the fire spans through the decades, including music by Ray Charles, B.B. King, the Four Tops, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, Sonny and Cher, Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Al Green, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Buffett, the Eagles, Aerosmith, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Barry White, Patti LaBelle, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Police, Sting, Steve Earle, R.E.M., Janet Jackson, Guns N’ Roses, Mary J. Blige, No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails, Snoop Dogg, Nirvana, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, 50 Cent and the Roots.