Sheryl Crow has confirmed the master tapes of her hit albums Tuesday Night Music Club and The Globe Sessions were among those destroyed in a fire 11 years ago.
The US singer-songwriter said the loss “absolutely grieves me”, adding “it feels a little apocalyptic” following the blaze that reportedly wiped out about 500,000 songs in Universal Music’s catalogue.
Crow said she only found out about her tapes’ destruction after a report this month in The New York Times revealed the extent of the damage in the Universal Studios blaze – described as “the biggest disaster in the history of the music business”.
The 57-year-old star said “all her masters” were wiped out when the sound recordings library was hit by the fire in the Los Angeles backlot on 1 June 2008.
The paper reported that Universal Music estimated in a confidential report a year after the fire that around half a million song titles in the archive were gone.
Crow, who had seven US top 10 albums between 1995 and 2008, is the first artist to confirm the loss of their recordings since the article was published two weeks ago.
The performer, whose biggest hits include All I Wanna Do and If It Makes You Happy, told the BBC: “I can’t understand, first and foremost, how you could store anything in a vault that didn’t have sprinklers.
“And secondly, I can’t understand how you could make safeties [back-up copies] and have them in the same vault. I mean, what’s the point?”
The paper said the fire was started by maintenance work and it destroyed master tapes of dozens of artists – “describing them as a who’s who of 20th and 21st century music”.
They included Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, BB King, Quincy Jones, Gladys Knight, Al Green, Elton John, Eric Clapton, the Eagles, Aerosmith, Tom Petty, Barry White, the Police, Sting, REM, Janet Jackson, Guns N’ Roses, Queen Latifah, Mary J Blige, Snoop Dogg, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Tupac Shakur, Eminem and 50 Cent.
In a statement following the New York Times’ report into the fire, Universal called the incident “deeply unfortunate”.
But it said the story contained “numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident”.
Rock band Soundgarden and estates representing Tupac Shakur and Tom Petty have filed a $100m (£79m) lawsuit against Universal Music, alleging the company failed to protect music ruined in the fire and to inform them of the full extent of the blaze’s impact.