“The day the music died,” contrary to Don McLean’s Buddy Holly tribute, 1971’s “American Pie,” ongoing revelations mostly prove fire loss of original master tapes in Hollywood, at Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record company, was the day the music really DIED.
Jody Rosen’s “The Day the Music Burned,” published in The New York Times Magazine June 11, 2019, revealed the fire happened, get this, June 1, 2008.
Here we are, almost six months after Rosen’s story broke, and nobody knows exactly what was lost.
Supposedly, totally destroyed were an estimated 100,000 masters and 500,000 song titles; that’s what UMG admits.
Those of us whose Greatest Generation parents, living in one-radio houses, listened to Ozark’s WOZK radio, may recall the station’s slogan, voiced by Howard Parrish, “Where the Melody Lingers,” and own original hit versions of our favorite songs we can clutch in our hands, recorded since 1940.
Here are some artists, musical pillars all, whose original masters were destroyed:
Steve Allen, Paul Anka, Louis Armstrong, Burt Bacharach, Hank Ballard, Joan Baez, Count Basie, Chuck Berry, Art Blakey, Owen Bradley, Dave Brubeck, Jimmy Buffett, Dorsey Burnette, Cab Calloway, Hoagie Carmichael, Carter Family, Ray Charles, Cher, Eric Clapton, Patsy Cline, John Coltrane and Bing Crosby;
Fats Domino, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Durante, Duke Ellington, Ferrante & Teicher, Ella Fitzgerald, Four Tops, Aretha and C.L. Franklin, Lefty Frizzell, Lowell Fulson, Judy Garland, Erroll Garner, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Al Green, Buddy Guy, Buddy Hackett, Bill Haley, Marvin Hamlisch, Lionel Hampton, Coleman Hawkins, Woody Herman, Earl Hines, Billie Holliday, Buddy Holly, John Lee Hooker, Bob Hope, Ink Spots and Burl Ives;
Etta and Elmore James, Elton John, Al Jolson, Booker T., George and Quincy Jones, Louis Jordan, Jordanaires, Boris Karloff, B.B and Martin Luther King Jr., Kingston Trio, Frankie Laine, Brenda and Peggy Lee, Ramsey and Jerry Lee Lewis, Liberace, Little Milton, Little Walter, Guy Lombardo, Louvin Brothers, Loretta Lynn, Groucho Marx, Hugh Masekela, Clyde McPhatter, Ethel Merman, Roger Miller, Mills Brothers, Bill Monroe, Wes Montgomery; and
Neville Brothers, Oak Ridge Boys, Spooner Oldham, Junior Parker, Dolly Parton, Les Paul, Webb Pierce, Doc Pomus, Lloyd Price, Louie Prima, Della Reese, Buddy Rich, Leon Russell, Neil Sedaka, Shel Silverstein, Kate Smith, Soul Stirrers, Tams, Koko Taylor, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Irma and Rufus Thomas, Big Mama Thornton, Ernest Tubb, Muddy Waters, Barry White, John Williams, Jimmy Witherspoon, Howlin’ Wolf and hundreds more.
Thankfully, no Elvis tunes perished!
While preparing this mini-list, “Britain in Color,” “Royalty” episode, airing on the Smithsonian Channel, ended with June 2, 1953’s coronation of 25-year-old Queen Elizabeth II.
This first televised coronation was watched by about 27 million folks, most, we’re told, bought their first TV especially for the historic pomp and circumstance regal occasions entail.
Gotta wonder how many loyal, royal subjects have been awaiting the second TV coronation, of Elizabeth’s oldest child, Prince Charles, if he happens to outlive his mum?
It’s long been certain Chuck’s younger brother, Prince Andrew, ain’t a’gettin’ crown or scepter; revelation of his involvement with the suddenly-deceased Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted American sex offender, resulted in Andy being allowed, by her majesty, to step away from his public duties.
Ready for more bad news?
Far’s we know, the UMG vault inferno didn’t destroy McLean’s “American Pie” master.