Original master recordings from artists such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Beck and R.E.M., along with 15 others, were confirmed to be destroyed or damaged in a 2008 fire at a Universal Music Group (UMG) storage vault.
The revelation appeared in a new filing in the ongoing class action lawsuit against UMG on behalf of artists seeking damages related to the fire. It marks the first public confirmation of specific artists who lost recordings in the fire following a New York Times report last year that detailed the potential extent of the damages.
Also on the list are Elton John, Sheryl Crow, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Bryan Adams, David Baerwald, Jimmy Eat World, Les Paul, Peter Frampton, Michael McDonald, Slayer, Sonic Youth, Suzanne Vega, Surfaris, White Zombie and Y&T.
While as many as 500,000 recordings may have been lost in the fire on the Universal Studios lot, the 19 artists listed in the filing were named as a result of a dispute between lawyers for the artists and the label. The artists' lawyers claim that UMG filed a claim for insurance after the fire listing 17,000 artists whose recordings had been lost.
Howard King, one of the lawyers for the artists behind the class action suit, said in a statement, “Universal claimed 17,000 artists were affected by the fire when they were suing for damages. Now that they face a lawsuit by their artists, they claim a mere 19 artists were affected. This discrepancy is inexplicable.”
None of the 19 artists mentioned in the filing have commented yet. But a UMG spokesperson called the information “a desperate attempt to inject substance into their meritless legal case.” The label insists that it has been working with artists and that it had replacements and/or safety copies for at least some of the affected recordings.