Despite Universal Studios' previous denial, a former senior director of vault operations spills that there were 'an estimated 175,000 tapes' that went up in flames because of the disaster.

AceShowbiz - A treasure trove of master recordings by artists including Aretha Franklin, Elton John, and Nirvana was reportedly destroyed in a 2008 fire on the Universal Studios backlot - and kept a secret until now.

The massive blaze tore through parts of the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, and wrecked a number of sets used for filming, as well as a warehouse full of film reels and sound recordings.

At the time, a Universal spokesperson told there was "no loss" of archived masters from the incident, as "most" of the material stored in the building had previously been moved to other locations.

However, according to The New York Times, that statement was not accurate, and in fact, original recordings from influential labels like Decca, Chess, MCA, and ABC, which dated back decades, were all lost in the disaster.

Among the tapes believed to have been reduced to ashes were masters from icons like Louis Armstrong, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Buddy Holly, B.B. King, and Billie Holiday.

Also likely lost forever are audio originals of Etta James' "At Last", Bill Haley & His Comets' "Rock Around the Clock", and Aretha Franklin's first commercially released music from her teen years, as well as recordings by more contemporary artists like Iggy Pop, No Doubt, Snoop Dogg, Soundgarden and the late Tom Petty.

Randy Aronson, who previously served as senior director of vault operations for Universal Music Group, told the Times an estimated 175,000 tapes went up in flames, and a spokesperson for the label has since admitted there were certain "constraints" which prevented officials from publicly disclosing details of the fire at the time.

In a statement released to the Times, the representative also assured fans various investments have been made "in order to best preserve and protect these musical assets and to accelerate the digitization and subsequent public availability of catalog recordings".

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