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The Day the Music Burned

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The Day the Music Burned

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/11/magazine/universal-fire-master-recordings.html

 

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.

The fire most likely claimed most of Chuck Berry’s Chess masters and multitrack masters, a body of work that constitutes Berry’s greatest recordings. The destroyed Chess masters encompassed nearly everything else recorded for the label and its subsidiaries, including most of the Chess output of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Etta James, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy and Little Walter. Also very likely lost were master tapes of the first commercially released material by Aretha Franklin, recorded when she was a young teenager performing in the church services of her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, who made dozens of albums for Chess and its sublabels.

Virtually all of Buddy Holly’s masters were lost in the fire. Most of John Coltrane’s Impulse masters were lost, as were masters for treasured Impulse releases by Ellington, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Alice Coltrane, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders and other jazz greats. Also apparently destroyed were the masters for dozens of canonical hit singles, including Bill Haley and His Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock,” Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats’ “Rocket 88,” Bo Diddley’s “Bo Diddley/I’m A Man,” Etta James’s “At Last,” the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie” and the Impressions’ “People Get Ready.”

 

The list of destroyed single and album masters takes in titles by dozens of legendary artists, a genre-spanning who’s who of 20th- and 21st-century popular music. It includes recordings by Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, the Andrews Sisters, the Ink Spots, the Mills Brothers, Lionel Hampton, Ray Charles, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Clara Ward, Sammy Davis Jr., Les Paul, Fats Domino, Big Mama Thornton, Burl Ives, the Weavers, Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Bobby (Blue) Bland, B.B. King, Ike Turner, the Four Tops, Quincy Jones, Burt Bacharach, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, Sonny and Cher, the Mamas and the Papas, Joni Mitchell, Captain Beefheart, Cat Stevens, the Carpenters, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Al Green, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Elton John, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Buffett, the Eagles, Don Henley, Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Iggy Pop, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Barry White, Patti LaBelle, Yoko Ono, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Police, Sting, George Strait, Steve Earle, R.E.M., Janet Jackson, Eric B. and Rakim, New Edition, Bobby Brown, Guns N’ Roses, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Sonic Youth, No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails, Snoop Dogg, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Hole, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, 50 Cent and the Roots.

Then there are masters for largely forgotten artists that were stored in the vault: tens of thousands of gospel, blues, jazz, country, soul, disco, pop, easy listening, classical, comedy and spoken-word records that may now exist only as written entries in discographies.

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What's so scary about this is how long it took for the actual impact to really become public.

 

What's also sad is that there appears to be no good record of what was lost.  :(

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Brian_at_HHH said:

What's so scary about this is how long it took for the actual impact to really become public.

 

Yep.  And Brian, if the extent of this absolute catastrophe could be contained as seems to have been, it is not hard to extrapolate how easy it is for governments (local, state, federal) to have containment on extremely important issues or happenings.  For us music lovers this would be our version of Armageddon.  Have been trying to wrap my head around this sense Mark posted a shorter version earlier. 

Edited by MLB111
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We had this discussion a couple of weeks ago in Sad headline of the day.  This is cultural and artistic loss of unprecedented proportions.

 

 

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2 hours ago, MLB111 said:

@Sk1Bummy apology.  I attributed that to Daddyjt.  It is a loss of unprecedented proportions. 

 

No worries Mike. Only speaking for myself, my memory loss is of similar proportions. :D 

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9 hours ago, Sk1Bum said:

We had this discussion a couple of weeks ago in Sad headline of the day.  This is cultural and artistic loss of unprecedented proportions.

 

 

 

There's a topic somewhere here called "don't you love history?" or some such.............that makes me wonder..... did the Library at Alexandria count as precedent?

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3 minutes ago, RichP714 said:

 

There's a topic somewhere here called "don't you love history?" or some such.............that makes me wonder..... did the Library at Alexandria count as precedent?

 

That memory loss thing--I had to look this up.

 

https://ehistory.osu.edu/articles/burning-library-alexandria

 

As Christians, we have a dismal record when it comes to science and knowledge. I guess we're still pissed over Eve taking a bite from the apple.

 

No matter who's to blame, I would say the loss of the library would count as precedent.

 

From the linked article:

 

"The real tragedy of course is not the uncertainty of knowing who to blame for the Library's destruction but that so much of ancient history, literature and learning was lost forever."

 

 

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I think one of the things that irks me about this is that it WAS known.   I remember hearing about the fire, at the time, and that tapes were lost.  They just didn't acknowledge the extent of what was lost - until recently.  They didn't deny it, but they simply weren't forthcoming with the information on what was lost.  Part of that was the fear of the lawsuits they would get (and are, now getting), and part of it as their sloppy record keeping which meant they didn't know how bad the losses were.  Many of those tapes were not actually owned by them but had been entrusted to them for safe keeping i a proper protected vault.

 

We will never even know what many of the older tapes were that were lost. Only the "relatively" recent ones.  ?

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34 minutes ago, danowood said:

Yet no lessons will be learned from it, or steps to prevent such losses.   And the beat goes on.   

 

Sad, but so very true.

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