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Re: [ARSCLIST] Sad news about Dick Sudhalter and Decca archive

Tom Fine wrote:
Followup on this -- Michael, do you mean the California fire? If so, are you talking about AMERICAN Decca or BRITISH Decca?

American, of course.

Why would British Decca materials be stored at Universal in California?

Why indeed! That's why it didn't even dawn on me to make a distinction!

I can understand American Decca because it was owned by MCA.

And then became Universal Music, which now is separate from the rest of Universal but had not yet removed most of the archive.

Also, Universal Music flacks were swearing up and down that no music stuff was lost in that fire in the days and weeks following the fire.

Yeah, "flacks" is the operative word. There seems to be a mixture of indifference to and ignorance of the past and things that are not of obvious and immediate commercial value. The operative word being "commercial". Mix in embarrassment and worries about stock value. Pay no attention to the rubble behind the curtain.

What is your "confirmation" you speak of below? Not wanting a flame-o-thon, just asking for facts.

-- Tom Fine


The "Marty" is Marty Wekser, identified as "a well-known mastering engineer who frequently works on compilations covering the 50s and 60s for labels such as Varese and Collector's Choice."

A story from the original time of the fire with initial reaction is here.


At that time a rep of Universal -- the film side, not the music side -- announced that nothing was lost that was not also preserved elsewhere. Of course he knew nothing of the music side since that was no longer a part of his company. Now we hear another interpretation of this. While the content might not be lost, the form is. For example, going back to the film side:

"Universal Classics sent out an e-mail notice today [June 2, 1008] to film bookers that nearly 100% of their 35mm. archive prints stored at the studio were destroyed in the fire. These copies were made available to arts organizations and film societies around the world. Will Universal make replacement prints for all these titles, or will they be available only in digital formats (if at all) in the future? Comment by L.B. --- June 2, 2008."

This was explained on 78-L today by William A. Brent: "the prints that were destroyed were the only screeners - and no one is going to
putt the negs out of cold mountain storage and make new prints - its just not worth it."

The films exist, just not in a form that film societies, revival theatres, etc want them in. And who cares about performers forgotten by the masses -- and the employees -- and if the unissued material was all that important, why the hell didn't it get issued in the first place.

Mike Biel mbiel@xxxxxxxxx

----- Original Message ----- From: "Tom Fine" <tflists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, September 19, 2008 6:05 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Sad news about Dick Sudhalter and Decca archive

Hi Michael:

Could you provide some details about the Universal archive fire? When and where did this happen? I thought the Decca masters were all consolidated in a climate-controlled and "fire-proof" archive in Germany, associated with Berliner Studios.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "Michael Biel" <mbiel@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, September 19, 2008 3:05 PM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Sad news about Dick Sudhalter and Decca archive

It is a sad day over at the 78-L and I am not going to cross-post what is over there, but just give you heads-up. Richard Sudhalter passed away last night. And there is now confirmation that the Universal vault fire consumed the entire Decca masters from the 30s thru the 50s. Metal, tape, test pressings, and paper.

There's no justice in the world.

Mike Biel mbiel@xxxxxxxxx

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