Beck fears most of his music was destroyed in Universal’s 2008 fire

Alternate versions of Sea Change and a double album full of Hank Williams covers are thought to have been lost forever

beck masters most music destroyed fire universal
Beck, photo by Philip Cosores

    Earlier this year, it was revealed that 500,000 master recordings from some of music’s biggest artists were destroyed in a fire that ravaged Universal Studios lot. The blaze, which took place in June 2008, claimed records by acts such as Al Green, Elton John, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Tupac Shakur, The Eagles, and Patti LaBelle.

    Beck’s expansive collection of recordings was also affected by the fire, but he suspects the damage is far worse than initially reported. In a new interview with the The Sydney Morning Herald, Beck said he fears that a majority of his music has been destroyed.

    (Read: Beck in 10 Songs)

    According to the 49-year-old musician, his management “still won’t tell me what was lost.” He added, “I have a feeling that my management is not telling me because they can’t bear to break the news.”


    Since launching his career in the late ’80s, Beck has put out more than a dozen studio albums, including just this month’s Hyperspace. However, he said these releases represent only 10% of what he’s actually recorded. The other 90% could very well have been lost forever in that fateful fire.

    One of the projects that may have been destroyed is an entire “album like Sea Change,” his 2002 LP. “There are completely different versions of songs and then there’s probably another 10 to 20 songs that aren’t on the record that [were] in progress,” explained Beck, “things that I thought I would finish later. It wasn’t that they were bad songs, they just didn’t fit the mood of the album.”

    Also unaccounted for is a double solo album full of Hank Williams songs, recorded in 2001 in Los Angeles. “I wanted to celebrate that influence in my music and explore it, and I don’t have a copy of that; it’s on a master tape, so that’s probably gone,” Beck told the The Sydney Music Herald.

    (Read: The Top 25 Rock Albums of the 2010s)


    A country album recorded in Nashville in just two days is also believed to have been destroyed in the fire, as well as a [Jon Spencer] Blues Explosion LP cut in 1995 in New York City.

    Additionally, the Grammy-winning songwriter’s attempt at more straightforward indie rock songs may never see the light of day. “I went and tried to make an indie-rock album, so there’s an album that sounds like a Pavement, Sebadoh kind of thing,” Beck said of these recordings, which were made in the years right before the release of the 1996 classic Odelay.

    In related news, Beck recently clarified that he has no “connection or affiliation” with Scientology. He has a few 2019 tour dates remaining in support of Hyperspace, and you can grab your concert tickets here.


    Earlier this month, Beck guested on Kyle Meredith With…, where he talked about working with Pharrell on Hyperspace, fashion, and more. Revisit the episode below.

    Listen via Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Play | Stitcher | Radio Public | RSS