Earlier this month, the New York Times shared an investigation revealing that around 500,000 recordings were lost in a 2008 fire at Universal Studios. The monumental loss of music history went unreported at the time, with Universal shifting the focus of the blaze to the loss of their King Kong theme park attraction.
The vault that burned reportedly held an irreplaceable archive of recordings, and masters dating as far back as the late 40s. The report revealed that recordings from Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland were all lost in the blaze.
Additionally, single and album masters from a pool of artists whose music defined 20th and 21st-century pop were also lost. This list included contributions from Nirvana, R.E.M., Iggy Pop, Aerosmith, Sonic Youth, Nine Inch Nails, No Doubt, Hole, Beck, Tupac Shakur and more.
Now, a follow-up report from The Times has been published; the report has revealed 700 additional artists who lost their master recordings in the fire. The list was obtained from a Universal Music Group internal list, assembled for the company’s ‘Project Phoenix’ recovery mission. ‘Project Phoenix’ saw UMG attempt to source replacement copies and duplicates of the destroyed masters.
The updated list includes names like Weezer, blink-182, Limp Bizkit, Temple of the Dog, The Who, Jawbreaker, Dolly Parton, Veruca Salt, Cher, Primus, the Wallfowers, and many more. You can read the entire list here.
The report has revealed that during the ‘Project Phoenix’ recovery effort, musicians were organised according to a hierarchy; created to establish which recordings were “priority assets.” One of the lists saw artists receive a letter grade ranking. Artists graded “A” spanned from iconic, historical musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Joni Mitchell, to noughties bestsellers The Pussycat Dolls. Whilst artists such as Alice Coltrane, Les Paul and the Roots were given Bs.
You can read the full New York Times report here.