On June 1, 2008, a fire broke out at the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot, taking out movie sets and theme-park amusements like the King Kong Encounter. The fire made the news at the time, but was — as a New York Times Magazine article reported in June of 2019, devastatingly minimized. In fact, the article reports, the fire had reached a segment of a Universal warehouse referred to as the “video vault,” a precious archive of sound recordings that contained some of the most important musical artifacts of our time.
Litigation continues as to Universal’s intent and potential misrepresentation of the fire in the subsequent decade — not to mention the way the archive was managed, its inventory logged on 5 x7 index cards. Meanwhile, fans of everyone from Aretha to Rob Zombie have been grieving the loss, and our friends at “Arkansongs” have combed the New York Times’ list of artists with masters potentially lost in the UMG fire and pulled out anyone with Arkansas connections. Here’s that post and list.
Arkansas music fans, we at “Arkansongs” have compiled a list of the Arkansas-connected artists whose masters were lost in “The Day the Music Burned” — the 2008 Universal Music Group fire that has only recently become public knowledge. Decca, A&M, Geffen, Chess, ABC, and Impulse were among the record labels affected, and this is likely a still-incomplete list of Arkansas-connected artists who lost masters in the UMG fire more than a decade ago:
Big Bill Broonzy & Washboard Sam
Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks
Louis Jordan and His Tympani Five
The Pointer Sisters
The Ray Charles Singers
The Soul Stirrers
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Sonny Boy Williamson