A Colossal Loss Of Music Kept Quiet For 10 Years

June 12, 2019
Tom Petty performs at Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre

© Ron Elkman/USA TODAY NETWORK

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Major pieces of music history were destroyed in a fire a decade ago and kept quiet until a new report by The New York Times.

The paper says that a blaze at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2008 destroyed hundreds of master tapes, but that Universal kept the focus on the burned “King Kong” theme park attraction and losses of video content, and attempted to keep the master tapes losses off the radar. The report states that the company feared legal and PR reaction from artists and estates that lost their masters.

The staggering list of masters burned in the fire crosses multiple genres -- works by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Police, Sting, R.E.M., Janet Jackson, Guns n’ Roses, Mary J. Blige, No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails, Snoop Dogg, Nirvana, Beck, Sheryl Crow, 2Pac, Eminem, 50 Cent, The Roots, The Four Tops, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Al Green, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Buffett, Eagles, Aerosmith, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Barry White and Patti LaBelle. Also lost were most of Buddy Holly's masters, much of Chuck Berry’s greatest recordings, and iconic singles like Bill Haley and His Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock,” Etta James’s “At Last” and The Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie.”