Sheryl Crow says the original tapes of albums including Tuesday Night
Music Club and The Globe Sessions went up in flames in a fire at
The singer told the BBC "all her masters" were destroyed when an
archive in Los Angeles burnt down in 2008.
She only discovered the loss this month, after her name was mentioned
in a New York Times report that uncovered the extent of the damage.
"It absolutely grieves me," said Crow. "It feels a little apocalyptic.
"I can't understand, first and foremost, how you could store anything
in a vault that didn't have sprinklers.
"And secondly, I can't understand how you could make safeties [back-up
copies] and have them in the same vault. I mean, what's the point?
"And thirdly, I can't understand how it's been 11 years," she added.
"I mean, I don't understand the cover-up."
Crow, who had seven US top 10 albums between 1995 and 2008, is the
first artist to confirm the loss of their recordings since the New
York Times' investigation was published two weeks ago.
It detailed how the fire, which was started by overnight maintenance
work, had destroyed thousands of master tapes - the original
recordings from which albums and singles are made - by some of the
most famous names in music history, from Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin
and Chuck Berry to Janet Jackson, Nirvana and Eminem.
Although the fire was widely reported at the time, Universal Music
downplayed the damage to its archives, saying many of the affected
tapes had duplicates in separate storage facilities.
The company also disputed the New York Times' investigation, citing
unspecified "factual inaccuracies" in the reporting.
Their head archivist, Patrick Kraus, later said the extent of the
losses had been "overstated".
"Many of the masters that were highlighted [in the report] as
destroyed, we actually have in our archives," he told Billboard
But Crow, whose biggest hits include All I Wanna Do and If It Makes
You Happy, confirmed her tapes had perished, taking with them dozens
of alternate takes, demos and unreleased songs.
"There are many songs on my masters that haven't come out," she said.
"My peace of mind in knowing I could come back someday and listen to
them and mine those [sessions] for basement tapes and outtakes, are
"But what grieves me more than any of that is the fact that Buddy
Holly and Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington - all this important music
has been erased.
"And it's not just the music, it's the dialogue between the music,
it's the takes that didn't make it, it's the versions we'll never
"It feels a little apocalyptic. Not to go down a weird path - but it
feels like we're slowly erasing things that matter."
A group of high-profile pop musicians are currently suing Universal
Music for $100m (£78m) over the loss of their master recordings.
The case was filed last week in Los Angeles by the rock bands
Soundgarden and Hole, singer-songwriter Steve Earle, the estate of
Tupac Shakur and a former wife of Tom Petty - who accuse Universal of
breaching its contracts with artists by failing to properly protect
They are seeking class action status, which means other affected
artists will be able to join the case at a later date.