Sheryl Crow Says All Her Master Tapes Were Destroyed In Universal Studios Fire

Los Angeles News

UNIVERSAL CITY (CBSLA) – Musician Sheryl Crow says the masters for all her major albums were destroyed in the 2008 blaze that ripped through the back lot of Universal Studios Hollywood.

Crow is the first artist to publicly confirm the loss of her master recordings since a New York Times investigative report earlier this month alleges Universal Studios tried to cover up the destruction of tens of thousands of priceless recordings in the fire.

Sheryl Crow performs onstage at the 44th Annual Gracies Awards on May 21, 2019, at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Getty Images)

“Well, that’s where all my masters were stored,” Crow told the BBC in an interview Tuesday. “And it absolutely grieves me.”

Crow says she only discovered the loss following the publication of the NYT story, the BBC reports.

On June 1, 2008, a massive fire swept across the backlot of Universal Studios Hollywood, torching a number of famous attractions.

The most costly destruction, however, was that of a video vault containing the master recordings for hundreds of Universal Music Group artists, including the likes of Crow, Elton John, the Eagles and Bill Haley & the Comets.

Crow alleges that both her masters and their back-ups were stored in the same vault. She says she also lost songs that were recorded but never released.

“I can’t understand how, first and foremost, how you could store anything in a vault that didn’t have sprinklers,” Crow said. “And secondly I can’t understand how you could make safeties and have them in the same vault.”

At the time of the fire, Universal claimed nothing irreplaceable was lost.

FILE — The Universal Studios backlot lies in ruins on June 2, 2008 in Universal City, Calif. The fire destroyed the filming sites of many blockbuster movies including Back to the Future and King Kong. The New York Street lot and a video vault also burned. (Getty Images)

“Fortunately nothing irreplaceable was lost, we have duplicates,” Ron Meyer — the former president of Universal Studios and current vice chairman of NBC Universal — said at the time. “Obviously there’s a lot of work to replicate what’s been lost, but it can be done.”

However, Randy Aronson, who was the senior director for vault operations for UMG when the fire occurred, was interviewed in the NYT piece and admitted there was a cover-up.

“I just kind of thought it was something that you say when there’s a disaster, and you kind of want to get your hands around the total loss before you come out with anything, and the next thing I know, it’s 11 years later,” Aronson said.

I can’t understand how it’s been 11 years,” Crow told the BBC. “I mean, I don’t understand the cover-up.”

Last week, several musicians filed a class-action lawsuit against UMG over the loss of their masters in the fire, according to Variety. They include the estates of Tom Petty and Tupac Shakur, along with Soundgarden, Hole and Steve Earle. Crow has not yet joined the lawsuit.

Universal has pushed back against the NYT story, writing in a statement: “The story contains numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident and affected assets.”

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