Nirvana, R.E.M., The Roots, Steely Dan Address Loss Of Masters In Universal Fire

Yesterday, a New York Times feature revealed that thousands upon thousands of master tapes from artists like Louis Armstrong, Janet Jackson, and Tupac were destroyed in a 2008 fire at Universal Studios Hollywood. Although the fire itself was public knowledge, the loss of Universal Music Group’s recordings was kept secret, with even the artists affected unaware of the extent of the damage. But now, in the wake of the article, they’re speaking out. When asked by a fan, former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic said that some of Nirvana’s music is probably just gone forever:

The Roots’ tapes were also destroyed in the fire, and Questlove has commented:

R.E.M., meanwhile, are still trying to determine what they lost in the fire:

Steely Dan were also affected, and their manager Irving Azoff has released a statement on behalf of the band to Variety. “We have been aware of ‘missing’ original Steely Dan tapes for a long time now,” he says. “We’ve never been given a plausible explanation. Maybe they burned up in the big fire. In any case, it’s certainly a lost treasure.”

After being contacted by Pitchfork, a representative for Hole said that the band was “not aware until this morning” of the damage to their recordings.

Representatives for Eminem were unable to say which of the rapper’s master tapes may have been stored in the vault that was destroyed, the Detroit Free Press reports. But fortunately, his tapes were digitized months before the accident. “I’m fairly confident that most, if not all, of the masters are backed up,” his spokesman Dennis Dennehy says.

Variety reports that Universal Music Group is disputing the severity of the damage as detailed in the New York Times piece. According to a statement from the company, the article contains “numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident and affected assets.”

“Music preservation is of the highest priority for us and we are proud of our track record,” the statement reads in part. “While there are constraints preventing us from publicly addressing some of the details of the fire that occurred at NBCUniversal Studios facility more than a decade ago, the incident — while deeply unfortunate – never affected the availability of the commercially released music nor impacted artists’ compensation.”