It’ll take a while for the general public to gain a true understanding of everything that was lost in the 2008 Universal warehouse fire, a disaster that reentered the spotlight after The New York Times reported claims of over 500,000 master recordings from iconic artists getting destroyed. The loss was drastically downplayed by UMG at the time of the accident, and artists are only now really grappling with all that was possibly lost. (UMG subsequently denied the extent of the damage.) One of those artists is Beck, who was mentioned in NYT’s original report. While promoting his new album Hyperspace, the artist opened up about the potential loss with The Sydney Morning Herald where he revealed that his management still hasn’t divulged exactly what was lost.
“I have a feeling that my management is not telling me because they can’t bear to break the news,” Beck said. He speculated that albums worth of unreleased music are “probably gone,” including a double of Hank Williams covers and collections that predate 1996's Odelay. He recorded an entire album with rock outfit Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in 1995 that simply never saw the light of day. “I went to Nashville on tour for two days and cut a country album that never got released,” Beck shared. “I have rock albums I did in the 1990s. Before I did Odelay, I went and tried to make an indie-rock album, so there’s an album that sounds like a Pavement, Sebadoh kind of thing. ... Nobody’s telling us anything.”
Other artists affected by the fire include Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Janet Jackson, Tupac, Joni Mitchell, and a host of others. UMG is also facing lawsuits filed by representatives of Hole, Soundgarden, and Tom Petty.