This is how Bryan Adams learned his 'Reckless' masters were destroyed

News 27/06/2019

Upon reading the news about the real damage report from the 2008 fire that burned Universal Studios Hollywood, Bryan Adams realised that it must be why his label was unable to provide him with any material for the 30th-anniversary edition of 'Reckless' back in 2014.

Today, NY Times published a follow-up article where Adams discussed how Universal Music Group (UMG) were never completely honest with him about the loss of his master recordings.

Not only did they lose all of the artwork for this album, they lost all of the master tapes

"I contacted the archive dept of Universal Music," he wrote in an e-mail to Jody Rosen, saying that he was looking for "the master mixes/artwork/photos/video/film... anything. I called everyone, former A&M employees, directors, producers, photographers, production houses, editors, even assistants of producers at the time."

"I can tell you with 100 per cent certainty that I couldn't find anything at Universal that had been published to do with my association with A&M Records in the 1980s," he says with great disappointment. "If you were doing an archaeological dig there, you would have concluded that it was almost as if none of it had ever happened. ... There was no mention that there had been a fire in the archive."

In a 2014 interview with UCR, Adams said that he contacted Universal who had acquired A&M when they bought Polygram in 1998, only to be told that the entire archive for 'Reckless' were lost. 

"Not only did they lose all of the artwork for this album, they lost all of the master tapes," he claims. "So those master tapes don't exist anymore."

Fortunately, Adams made a wise decision back then, keeping a copy of the master in his home vault, which he used for the 30th-anniversary reissue. "Luckily back then, I was kind of thinking, 'Oh, maybe I'll put a studio together,' so I used to keep a vault of tapes from my sessions," he explained. "I must have made a copy of it as a protection copy. What you do is when you make your master, you make a protection copy as well and I kept the protection copy at my house. So I had to go back, and I thought, 'Did I keep a copy of this?' Sure enough, I kept this thing and I've had this thing in my vault for 30 years."

The fire at the Universal backlot in June 2008.. Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press

Just last week, lawsuits were filed by the estates of Tom Petty, Soundgarden, Tupac Shakur, Hole and Steve Earle. They all claimed UMG had both failed to protect the masters and properly inform the musicians of the lost recordings, and they're seeking more than $100 million in damages.

"No one knows for sure yet, specifically what is gone from their estate, their catalogue," Courtney Love told the Times. "But for once in a horrible way people believe me about the state of the music business which I would not wish on my worst enemy. Our culture has been devastated. Meanwhile, UMG is online with cookie recipes and pop, as if nothing happened. It's so horrible."

Over 100,000 masters and 500,000 song titles were lost and destroyed in the 2008 fire. The Times printed a list of 829 artists that represented 'virtually every genre' of music and named in UMG's internal documents. You can see the full list here.