Back in 2008, Universal Studios Hollywood suffered massive losses when a fire swept right through the backlot, destroying an estimated 500,000 master recordings by the likes of The Roots, Sting, Nine Inch Nails, Tupac, Aerosmith and Ray Charles.
An extensive report by The New York Times, unveiled this week, has detailed the proper extent of the damage and it’s a lot to take in when comprehending the sheer amount of material lost.
Amongst the masters lost in the fire, Nirvana‘s Nevermind. The Senior Director of Vault Operations at the Universal Music Group, Randy Aronson, was one of the team in charge of archiving this veritable treasure trove of music. Understandably, he was devastated when remembering the effects of the fire.
“So many things would come to the vault straight from studios and get shelved,” he told The New York Times. “Nirvana production masters with extra songs no one ever heard. …Often there was no other info, no metadata. Who knows what was on those tapes? We’ll never know?”
“I think they are gone forever,” Nirvana bass player Krist Novoselic replied on Twitter, when the article was brought to him by a fan.
— Chris “also tall & plays bass” Rasmusstache (@thankubassjesus) June 11, 2019
At the time of the fire, much of the original coverage was focused on what classic film and TV footage was lost, but now we’re fully beginning to understand just how much musical history has been erased.