Yesterday, The New York Times’ published a wild, deeply sad story alleging that the 2008 fire that swept through Universal Studios Hollywood destroyed roughly 500,000 master recordings, a figure that Universal Music Group, who owned the recordings, downplayed at the time and continues to dispute. Now, in the aftermath of the story, a number of artists are pondering the fate of their own masters—the original recording of any piece of music and an integral component in the remastering process—and coming to terms with the fact that the masters may be lost forever.
One of them is Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, who replied to a Twitter user on Tuesday saying he fears the masters for the band’s seminal Nevermind are “gone forever.”
He’s not alone, either. R.E.M., Roseanne Cash, Asia, and The Roots’ Questlove are also in the process of determining the fate of several of their albums. Management for Steely Dan, too, issued a statement to Variety. “We have been aware of ‘missing’ original Steely Dan tapes for a long time now,” reads the statement. “We’ve never been given a plausible explanation. Maybe they burned up in the big fire. In any case, it’s certainly a lost treasure.”
The loss is said to have also impacted artists including Joni Mitchell, Aretha Franklin, Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, and many, many more.