Here’s a bit of good news to share in regard to a music industry tragedy: The Shelter Records catalog is probably safe.
Many music artists are worried they lost historical materials in a 2008 fire at a California facility used by Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record company, to store masters and other recordings.
The public was largely unaware of the significance of the fire until New York Times Magazine published a June 11 story about what might have been lost in the blaze.
Among the hundreds of artists whose materials could have been destroyed: Count Basie, Chuck Berry, Ernest Tubb, Jerry Lee Lewis, Neil Diamond and Loretta Lynn. The names of Oklahoma artists like Roy Clark, Leon Russell and Reba McEntire appeared on a list published in a New York Times follow-up story.
In a July 7 Tulsa World story, Tulsa power pop music figure Dwight Twilley expressed concerns that he lost irreplaceable materials in the fire, and he said he was in search of answers.
Here’s a partial answer: A source close to the situation said the Shelter catalog is probably safe and in storage. Russell co-founded Shelter Records, which was headquartered in Tulsa and Los Angeles. Twilley, Tom Petty, JJ Cale and The Gap Band were among artists who recorded early works under the Shelter Records label.
A class-action lawsuit against UMG has been filed by representatives of Soundgarden, Steve Earle, Hole and the estates of Tupac and Petty. In addition to seeking financial compensation, the suit accuses UMG of negligence and concealing the extent of the losses from artists.