Thursday Open Thread | The Day the Music Burned😢😢

Reading this story was just so painful. So much of our culture -GONE FOREVER. I had to admit, I thought by now that all of this had been digitized. The thought that it was just sitting in a building somewhere, and not in a sealed vault….the irresponsibility there by those in charge. Like they didn’t really appreciate what they had. …and, now, it’s GONE.

The Day the Music Burned
It was the biggest disaster in the history of the music business — and almost nobody knew. This is the story of the 2008 Universal fire.

By Jody Rosen
· June 11, 2019

1. ‘The Vault Is on Fire’
The fire that swept across the backlot of Universal Studios Hollywood on Sunday, June 1, 2008, began early that morning, in New England. At 4:43 a.m., a security guard at the movie studio and theme park saw flames rising from a rooftop on the set known as New England Street, a stretch of quaint Colonial-style buildings where small-town scenes were filmed for motion pictures and television shows. That night, maintenance workers had repaired the roof of a building on the set, using blowtorches to heat asphalt shingles. They finished the job at 3 a.m. and, following protocol, kept watch over the site for another hour to ensure that the shingles had cooled. But the roof remained hot, and some 40 minutes after the workers left, one of the hot spots flared up.

The fire moved quickly. It engulfed the backlot’s famous New York City streetscape. It burned two sides of Courthouse Square, a set featured in “Back to the Future.” It spread south to a cavernous shed housing the King Kong Encounter, an animatronic attraction for theme-park visitors. Hundreds of firefighters responded, including Universal Studios’ on-site brigade. But the fire crews were hindered by low water pressure and damaged sprinkler systems and by intense radiant heat gusting between combustible structures.

Eventually the flames reached a 22,320-square-foot warehouse that sat near the King Kong Encounter. The warehouse was nondescript, a hulking edifice of corrugated metal, but it was one of the most important buildings on the 400-acre lot. Its official name was Building 6197. To backlot workers, it was known as the video vault.
Shortly after the fire broke out, a 50-year-old man named Randy Aronson was awakened by a ringing phone at his home in Canyon Country, Calif., about 30 miles north of Universal City, the unincorporated area of the San Fernando Valley where the studio sits. Aronson had worked on the Universal lot for 25 years. His title was senior director of vault operations at Universal Music Group (UMG). In practice, this meant he spent his days overseeing an archive housed in the video vault. The term “video vault” was in fact a misnomer, or a partial misnomer. About two-thirds of the building was used to store videotapes and film reels, a library controlled by Universal Studios’s parent company, NBCUniversal. But Aronson’s domain was a separate space, a fenced-off area of 2,400 square feet in the southwest corner of the building, lined with 18-foot-high storage shelves. It was a sound-recordings library, the repository of some of the most historically significant material owned by UMG, the world’s largest record company.


One of the few journalists to note the existence of the UMG archive was Nikki Finke, the entertainment-industry blogger and gadfly. In a post on the day of the fire, Finke wrote that “1,000’s of original … recording masters” might have been destroyed in the warehouse, citing an anonymous source. The next day Finke published a “clarification,” quoting an unnamed representative from the record company: “Thankfully, there was little lost from UMG’s vault. A majority of what was formerly stored there was moved earlier this year to our other facilities. Of the small amount that was still there and waiting to be moved, it had already been digitized so the music will still be around for many years to come.” The same day, in the music trade publication Billboard, a UMG spokesperson again pushed back against the idea that thousands of masters were destroyed with a more definitive denial: “We had no loss.”
These reassuring pronouncements concealed a catastrophe. When Randy Aronson stood outside the burning warehouse on June 1, he knew he was witnessing a historic event. “It was like those end-of-the-world-type movies,” Aronson says. “I felt like my planet had been destroyed.”

The archive in Building 6197 was UMG’s main West Coast storehouse of masters, the original recordings from which all subsequent copies are derived. A master is a one-of-a-kind artifact, the irreplaceable primary source of a piece of recorded music. According to UMG documents, the vault held analog tape masters dating back as far as the late 1940s, as well as digital masters of more recent vintage. It held multitrack recordings, the raw recorded materials — each part still isolated, the drums and keyboards and strings on separate but adjacent areas of tape — from which mixed or “flat” analog masters are usually assembled. And it held session masters, recordings that were never commercially released.

The scope of this calamity is laid out in litigation and company documents, thousands of pages of depositions and internal UMG files that I obtained while researching this article. UMG’s accounting of its losses, detailed in a March 2009 document marked “CONFIDENTIAL,” put the number of “assets destroyed” at 118,230. Randy Aronson considers that estimate low: The real number, he surmises, was “in the 175,000 range.” If you extrapolate from either figure, tallying songs on album and singles masters, the number of destroyed recordings stretches into the hundreds of thousands. In another confidential report, issued later in 2009, UMG asserted that “an estimated 500K song titles” were lost.

The monetary value of this loss is difficult to calculate. Aronson recalls hearing that the company priced the combined total of lost tape and “loss of artistry” at $150 million. But in historical terms, the dimension of the catastrophe is staggering. It’s impossible to itemize, precisely, what music was on each tape or hard drive in the vault, which had no comprehensive inventory. It cannot be said exactly how many recordings were original masters or what type of master each recording was. But legal documents, UMG reports and the accounts of Aronson and others familiar with the vault’s collection leave little doubt that the losses were profound, taking in a sweeping cross-section of popular music history, from postwar hitmakers to present-day stars.

Among the incinerated Decca masters were recordings by titanic figures in American music: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland. The tape masters for Billie Holiday’s Decca catalog were most likely lost in total. The Decca masters also included recordings by such greats as Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five and Patsy Cline.

Read the complete article to get the grasp and scope of what was lost. If you love music at all, and appreciate it…it will be painful.

This entry was posted in Culture, History, Music, Open Thread, Politics, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

111 Responses to Thursday Open Thread | The Day the Music Burned😢😢

  1. Liza says:

    Having an idiot for a “president” is very dangerous. This could get real.

  2. rikyrah says:

    Media Alert

    AFI Tribute to Denzel Washington is on TNT tonight, beginning at 10 p.m. EST.

    • eliihass says:

      Bears repeating… California Democratic Convention goers – aka the party insiders/poobahs – are not in the end reflective of California Democrats as a whole.. and their insider ‘faves’ are not the faves of the masses..

      Case in point – the California Democratic Convention endorsed Kevin de León over Diane Feinstein, but folks in California overwhelming picked Feinstein and sent her back to D.C..

      Folks aren’t stupid.. even if and when a handful of so-called ‘influencers’ try to aggressively sell folk dehydrated water..

  3. rikyrah says:

    This Machine Kills Mayonnaise Misogynoir (@Bravewriting) Tweeted:
    Chuck “struggle goatee” Todd told AOC not to call the prisons camps “Concentration Camps” in a very condescending tone.

    He mansplained, he worked his rubber mouth, he pretended to know history.

    He was wrong and sexist.

    I request that we call them Concentration Camps forever.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) Tweeted:
    I feel like I’m losing my mind watching all the people who got us into Iraq, which killed hundreds of thousands of people and massively strengthened Iran, now pushing for a war with Iran. It’s sociopathic.

  5. 🎵🎤Who’s that man I see
    underneath the hanging tree
    he looks just like me
    so tell me am I really free
    could have been my mother
    crying for my brother
    and everybody, everybody, everybody
    praying for peace
    but who’s gonna protect us from the police🎵🎤

  6. rikyrah says:

    Give War a Chance
    In search of the Democratic Party’s fighting spirit
    June 20, 2019

    Senator Elizabeth Warren’s plan to address America’s opioid epidemic has one unusual component, something that sets her dramatically apart from nearly everyone else running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination: a villain.

    Specifically, that villain is Purdue Pharma, the creator of OxyContin. Even more specifically, it is the Sackler family, who own Purdue. A May blog post introducing Warren’s opioid plan promises “real criminal penalties” for pharmaceutical executives guilty of “dumping mountains of highly addictive pills” into struggling American communities. As part of the policy rollout, Warren campaigned in West Virginia, the heart of both the opioid crisis and “Trump Country,” to make the point directly to voters: “Look at families like the Sackler family; anyone heard of them?” she asked the crowd assembled in Kermit, a tiny town that had literally millions of hydrocodone pills delivered to its single pharmacy. “How do they make their big profits?… They sold [OxyContin] and they pushed doctors to write the prescriptions,” she said, delivering a brief summary of Purdue’s astonishing and shameless sales tactics.

    It is not remarkable to hear a Democratic candidate go into populist mode while on the campaign trail, to rail against corporate fat cats and blame their greed for the problems facing blue-collar workers. It, however, is a bit unexpected—much more so than it should be—to hear one of them say the fat cat’s name. 

    Indeed, Democrats discussing society’s ills are almost pathologically averse to putting a name to the face. I remember hearing once about a young Democratic congressional staffer who was carefully admonished by a veteran aide never to call out drug companies by name when talking drug prices. The Democratic Party will acknowledge problems, but not villains.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Putin has told the USA to sit their azzes down when it comes to Iran.

    uh huh
    uh huh

  8. rikyrah says:

    He’ll find the ones that think they’re ‘special’.

    Trump’s Reelection Campaign Is Trying to Woo Latino Voters While Threatening to Purge America of Latinos

    Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
    Today 11:00am

    President Trump is nothing if not tone deaf. Somehow, Trump pulled favorable numbers with Hispanic voters in 2016, and now the president’s campaign to steal the White House in 2020 has its eyes set on pulling the Hispanic vote while simultaneously threatening to rid America of undocumented immigrants and locking children of those who cross the Southern border illegally in cages.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, “The ‘Latinos for Trump’ rollout will take place in Miami on Tuesday—a day before the city hosts the first Democratic presidential primary debate—with Vice President Mike Pence appearing with party members, including Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez.”

    The campaign is banking on low unemployment numbers, Trump’s tough stance on China and demands to curb illegal immigration to play well with Cuban Americans in Florida, many of whom vote Republican. Trump’s campaign will continue to paint the Democratic Party as the socialist party in hopes of swaying Venezuelan voters “with ties to countries that have leftist governments.”

    • rikyrah says:

      I saw the stats on the Phoenix Police. They have twice as many cop shootings as the New York PD…and New York has 7 MILLION MORE PEOPLE.
      DA PHUQ?

  9. Ametia says:

    Word of the Day : June 20, 2019

    Demeanor: noun dih-MEE-ner

    Definition: behavior toward others : outward manner

  10. Ametia says:

    I’ve been quiet on this Biden/Booker dust-up. It’s a another DISTRACTION.


  11. Ametia says:

    Dropping this right here:

    Inside the nationwide crime lab backlog

    A growing backlog at crime labs nationwide is leaving victims waiting for justice. A recent government report found the backlog for DNA analysis increased almost 85 percent from 2011 through 2017. Mireya Villarreal reports.

    • eliihass says:

      Things have fallen apart.. and suddenly, it’s no longer blamed on the person occupying the oval..

      The media is far too busy legitimizing and fluffing up a treasonous buffoon …and helping him and his puppeteers usher us into war ..

  12. If this messes my mind up from reading about it, imagine the effect it’s having on little children? Lord, come see about your people. We can’t deal with this barbarism.

  13. I can’t believe what I’m reading. It’s so disturbing. If any parent or caregiver were refusing to provide hygiene products to a child, CPS would charge them with abuse and they’d be in jail. And the GOVERNMENT is actually trying to defend it in court. OMG!

  14. rikyrah says:

    Missouri abortion clinic stands up to state’s ‘unethical’ demands
    Rachel Maddow reports breaking news that Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, the last women’s health clinic offering abortion services in the state of Missouri is no longer complying with state bureaucratic demands that a medically unnecessary, invasive pelvic exam be an automatic prerequisite for abortion.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Trump involves Hope Hicks in House investigation stall tactics
    Rep. David Cicilline talks with Rachel Maddow about his frustration with the refusal of Hope Hicks to answer many questions at a closed hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, and the inevitability that Donald Trump’s newly invented assertion of absolute immunity will be challenged in court.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Four with Russian intel ties charged in downing of flight MH17
    Rachel Maddow reports on an international investigation into the shooting down of flight MH17 over Ukraine, with four people tied to Russian intelligence charged with the murder of the plane’s passengers.

  17. rikyrah says:

    The Obamas drop in on the Clooneys! 300ft exclusion zone will be placed around George and Amal’s Italian villa when former President and his family stay with them on Friday on latest leg of their European holiday

    Obama family will be guests of George and Amal Clooney in Lake Como Friday
    The next stop of their jet-set European tour takes them to Clooney’s Italian villa
    Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha will fly into Milan from Provence on their jet
    300ft radius around George Clooney’s mansion is to prevent unwanted visitors

    PUBLISHED: 09:47 EDT, 20 June 2019 | UPDATED: 10:01 EDT, 20 June 2019

  18. rikyrah says:

    Other: They’re not concentration camps.

    Me: They ARE concentration camps. But, I will give you this. They aren’t the Germans. The Germans were better record keepers. The clothes you take to the cleaners have a better tracking system than these people do with human beings. (then stand there with lips pursed).

  19. Nasty filthy trash. And I’m not speaking about the garbage.

  20. rikyrah says:

    Pence NSA kept Butina tie secret at Senate confirmation: WaPo
    Rachel Maddow relays the details of a new Washington Post report that exposes the close personal relationship between Andrea Thompson, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, and Paul Erickson, boyfriend of admitted Russian agent Maria Butina, which Thompson left unmentioned at her confirmation hearing well after the Butina scandal was publicly known.

    • eliihass says:

      Hate to say it, but at this rate, no way the party unites around any one of these candidates..

      Too many folks dug in..

      And Democrats as usual, doing what they do best.. snatching defeat from the jaws of victory..

    • Liza says:

      Right. No gas ovens. Yet.

    • eliihass says:


      But watch him get another 4 years at the rate things are going..

    • majiir says:

      From a historical point of view, these facilities can also be called ghettos. In America, the word ghetto is usually as associated with black citizens living in inner cities, but its origin is European. The Nazis forced Jewish persons in some countries to live in ghettos during WWII. The word inherently refers to forcing a certain segment of persons in a nation to live in a confined area/region. The word was first used to describe the Jews in Italy, who were forced to live apart from the Caucasian general population in the 16th Century in what was known as the ‘Venetian Ghetto.’

  21. rikyrah says:

    Yes….what should we call them?😠😠

    • Liza says:

      “Biden is showing his age…”

    • eliihass says:

      Pffffft at all this faux-outrage and selective ‘concern’ about ‘racism’ ..

      Connie Schultz – racist, spiteful gossip and wife of Sherrod Brown – was one of the most racist, hostile, spiteful, malicious to the historic first black FLOTUS..

      She, along with so many of these now sudden pearl clutchers, were the very same folks who for 8 years, routinely went out of their way to elevate Joe Biden and his wife – over the Obamas ..same folks who did everything to actively undermine and put them in their place..

      These same folks now screaming bloody murder and acting all ‘offended’ include some of the same ones who’d effusively talk up Joe Biden – the V.P – as ‘more seasoned and more qualified’, and all while dismissing the historic president as ‘acting and sounding like a junior senator’ in the White House .. and same folk too who also kept trying their darnedest to erase my historic FLOTUS as they again and again tried to force and pass off the V.P’s white wife as their preferred first lady..

      The idea that in a space of 2 years everyone suddenly wants to pretend that what those with eyes witnessed firsthand over 8+ years did not in fact happen, is as insane as it’s amusing..

      We all watched most of these same pearl-clutching folk actively denigrate and treat the historic black FLOTUS with as much racist contempt, condescension and disregard as they could muster..

      Selective amnesia and gaslighting has become quite the contagion it appears..

  22. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone 😄 😄😄

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