Eminem, Tupac & 50 Cent's Masters Destroyed In Massive 2008 Fire

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PEOPLE reported at the time that the King Kong exhibit was "three quarters lost" and that the NY set "has been totally lost".

About 500,000 master recordings - many of them historically significant - were destroyed in the fire, The New York Times Magazine reported. Nearly of all of Buddy Holly's masters were lost, as were most of John Coltrane's masters in the Impulse Records collection.

A master recording, or "master", as it is often called, is the original sound recording of a song.

Of the artists that lost masters in the fire are Aretha Franklin, whose first recorded appearances are gone forever, Buddy Holly, who lost almost his entire catalog, and Etta James, who lost her hit single "At Last". Other master recordings reportedly lost in the flames include offerings from Bobby (Blue) Bland, B.B. King, Ike Turner, the Four Tops, Quincy Jones, Burt Bacharach, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, 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 and many more.

Universal Studios officials reportedly kept the damage hush-hush at the time, saying that nothing that had been lost was the sole copy of a work.

The Times notes that while the Universal Studios vault known as Building 6197 was not the label's only storage facility, it was the main location. The report, titled "The Day Music Burned", details the possible extent of damage caused by the flames, including the loss of an estimated 500,000 song titles, some dating as far back as the 1940s.

In reality, decades and hundreds of thousands of original masters and recordings of classic pieces of music were lost.

After the fire, UMG started a two-year project to try to replicate its library, which resulted in about a fifth of the lost music being "recovered" by obtaining sonically inferior copies, according to Aronson's estimate.