A large fire destroyed parts of the Universal Studios lot on Sunday 1 June, immolating music masters, street sets and the King Kong exhibit.
“It looked like a bomb had exploded,” said one Burbank city official when asked about the blaze. The fire began in the early hours of yesterday morning and rapidly built in size and ferocity. The clock tower made famous in the Back To The Future movies was utterly destroyed, as was the King Kong exhibit. The video vault was also damaged, but the film masters are reportedly safe.
Aside from the tens of millions of dollars it will undoubtedly cost to replace the damage, however, by far the greatest loss was Universal Music’s record collection that was housed on-site. According to journalist Nikki Finke, thousands of record masters from the Fifties onwards, including artists such as Bing Crosby, The Carpenters and Judy Garland were lost. Finke’s source stated that: “This is a tremendous loss in music history. A very sad day indeed. It’s too bad they saved the videos that they have backups on instead of the master recordings in which they do not, although they may not have had a choice since the fire had already engulfed much of the music side of the vault.”
The true scale of the damage has yet to be assessed, but it is feared that the impact will be felt for a long time to come.