×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Attorney for Universal Music Artists Impacted by 2008 Fire Requests Inventory

Following on its statements last week that it will be filing a lawsuit on behalf of several Universal Music recording artists impacted by a 2008 fire that destroyed a huge number of master recordings, a Los Angeles law firm has requested a “complete inventory” from the company.

Addressed to UMG CEO and chairman Lucian Grainge, the letter, obtained by Variety, is titled “Loss of Master Recordings in 2008 Fire.” It reads:

“Dear Sir Lucian:

We represent current and former Universal Music Group artists, who are distressed to belatedly learn that Universal suffered a catastrophic loss of hundreds of thousands of master recordings in 2008. The angst over the possible loss of irreplaceable intellectual property they entrusted to UMG is palpable.

“We request that UMG promptly furnish us with a complete inventory of all master recordings, including finished sound recordings as well as outtakes, that were destroyed in the fire. It is important to all artists who may have been affected by this calamity to know the truth regarding the condition of their master recordings stored by Universal.

“We look forward to receiving a meaningful response by the end of the week,” signed by partner Howard King of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, LLP.

Reps for UMG did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment, but either in anticipation of or response to this letter, Grainge issued an internal memo to Universal staffers earlier today that was obtained by Variety. In it, he acknowledges the vast damage caused by the fire, although he says some media reports were “not accurate,” he does on to say: “Let me be clear: we owe our artists transparency. We owe them answers. I will ensure that the senior management of this company, starting with me, owns this.” (Read the full memo here.)

Last week, King told Variety that he expects to sue for negligence and other torts. He declined to identify his clients, saying the list has not been finalized yet.

“These artists entrusted Universal with their life’s work, with some expectation those would be protected,” said King. “There’s some duty to protect that Universal, we learned, breached. Then they compounded the problem by absolutely hiding the fact that these valuable masters had been lost.”

King told the Los Angeles Times he had “more than 10 but fewer than 100 clients.” He said he expected to file individual lawsuits on behalf of clients, rather than class action suits.

The extent of the fire’s damage was revealed earlier this week in a New York Times article. The fire, which took place on June 1, 2008 on the backlot of Universal Studios Hollywood, destroyed “almost all of the master recordings stored in the vault … including those produced by some of the most famous musicians since the 1940s, [likely including] masters by Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland; as well as some of Chuck Berry’s greatest recordings, the masters of some of Aretha Franklin’s first appearances on record, almost of all of Buddy Holly’s masters and John Coltrane’s masters in the Impulse Records collection. Also lost were recordings by Ray Charles, B.B. King, the Four Tops, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, Sonny and Cher, Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Al Green, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Buffett, the Eagles, Aerosmith, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Barry White, Patti LaBelle, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Police, Sting, Steve Earle, R.E.M., Janet Jackson, Guns N’ Roses, Mary J. Blige, No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails, Snoop Dogg, Nirvana, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, 50 Cent and the Roots.”

 

More Biz

  • Lilly Burns Tony Hernandez

    Variety to Honor Jax Media Chiefs Tony Hernandez, Lilly Burns at New Leaders Event

    Emmy Award-winning producer Tony Hernandez and Emmy-nominated producer Lilly Burns will receive the Creative Leadership Award on behalf of Jax Media at the Variety New Leaders event presented by City National Bank, taking place Nov. 14 in New York City. As founders of Jax Media, Hernandez and Burns have produced shows and specials such as [...]

  • Andrea Bocelli

    Andrea Bocelli Calls Plácido Domingo Cancellations Due to Sexual Harassment Claims ‘Absurd’

    Italian singer Andrea Bocelli is defending embattled opera star Plácido Domingo, saying it is “absurd” that concerts have been canceled in the wake of multiple sexual-harassment allegations. “I am still appalled at what happened to this incredible artist,” Bocelli said, according to the Associated Press. “I don’t understand this. Tomorrow a lady can just come up [...]

  • Rudy Lopez Negrete Returns to CAA     

    Rudy Lopez Negrete Returns to CAA

    Rudy Lopez Negrete has rejoined CAA as an agent in the Music Touring department, specifically focused on leading brand partnerships for CAA’s Latin music clients. He will be based in the company’s Los Angeles office, where he will work with Latin artists including Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Becky G, Isabela Merced, Luis Fonsi, Mon [...]

  • Richard Plepler HBO

    Former HBO Chief Richard Plepler Close to Signing Apple TV Plus Production Pact

    Former HBO chief Richard Plepler is close to signing an exclusive production pact with Apple TV Plus. Apple declined to comment and Plepler could not immediately be reached for comment. It’s understood that Plepler plans to launch a boutique production company designed to focus on a handful of high-profile projects. Among his advisors in pulling [...]

  • Byron AllenVariety Inclusion Summit, Inside, Los

    Byron Allen, Comcast to Square Off in Supreme Court on Racial Discrimination Case

    Byron Allen’s racial discrimination case against Comcast Corp. on Wednesday heads to the Supreme Court, where justices will consider Comcast’s argument that the case should hinge on two words: “but for.” Allen filed a $20 billion lawsuit against Comcast in February 2015, arguing that the nation’s largest cable operator was discriminating against his company, Entertainment [...]

  • Gary Ehrlich Named President, General Manager

    Gary Ehrlich Named President, General Manager of Fox Studio Lot

    Gary Ehrlich was named to oversee operations at the Fox Studio Lot, a position of growing importance to Fox Corporation. Fox said Tuesday that it had named Ehrlich, a former executive vice president at Fox Sports, the new president and general manger of its Fox Studio lot in Century City. Fox retained its ownership to [...]

  • WGA Strike Labor Talks

    How the Streaming Revolution Is Making Guild Negotiations Even More Complicated

    It may not be a perfect storm yet, but ominous clouds are gathering. As the winter holidays approach, there’s growing agita across the industry about the potential for substantial labor strife next year. The WGA, DGA and SAG-AFTRA are gearing up for master film and TV contract negotiations with the major studios at a time [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content