The great disco inferno: Thousands of the world's most iconic music tracks have been lost for ever in a Los Angeles fire – which was covered up for a decade. TOM LEONARD asks why we are only now learning the truth
By Tom Leonard In New York For The Daily Mail
Published: 22:46, 12 June 2019 | Updated: 00:48, 13 June 2019
When a fire engulfed the Universal Film Studio and theme park in California 11 years ago, the entertainment giant publicly insisted there was nothing much to mourn.
The King Kong Encounter, a huge animatronic attraction, had gone up in smoke, admitted Universal — as had a video vault that contained only dusty copies of old works that almost nobody would miss.
In fact it’s now claimed that this was one of the biggest cultural cover-ups in history.
The Universal Studios blaze which broke out 11 years ago destroyed the original master tapes of some 500,000 songs, from Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Elton John to The Police.
The destruction of master recordings isn't anything new as multi-track tapes have often been junked or re-used to save money. Most audiophiles would argue that the final mixes that were originally released are what that want to hear and not a re-mix (even though it may be sonically superior).
Personally, I enjoy listening to session tapes and there are numerous collections of out-takes from The Beatles, Elvis, The Beach Boys and Bing Crosby for us to indulge ourselves with, but the truth is that although we may have lost half a million master recordings, anything worth releasing should have already been released and is still available for us to enjoy indefinitely.
I can understand Universal not wanting to publicize the loss as it's embarassing that the majority of multi-tracks would not have been digitized, but at least it wasn't a deliberate destruction of our cultural heritage that so many other companies are guilty of!
as had a video vault that contained only dusty copies of old works that almost nobody would miss.
It should be noted that this claim, as made, is considered suspect in several regards and has been since the fire- there is evidence that quite a few Technicolor prints (of the sort that aren't made anymore) of older films were lost in the fire, and a large amount of videotape materials that were in the Universal archive also were lost.