Stunning unearthed Stone Roses footage thought to be only recording of iconic Spike Island gig

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“It’s absolute gold dust and this is a legendary story that deserves to be told.”

Never-before-seen footage of The Stone Roses’ iconic Spike Island gig has been unearthed – and is set to be used in an upcoming documentary. Martin Cornell’s handheld recording is thought to the only shots of the seminal concert in 1990, which is seen as a landmark event in British musical history.

More than 29,000 fans crammed into man-made island in the River Mersey, which was better known as the site of a disused chemical plant. It was described by the NME as a celebration their success and "an entire youth culture" and came at the height of the 'Madchester' music scene.

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The footage includes shots of the crowd filling up, support acts taking to the stage and the Manchester music legends’ full performance. And after he was introduced to film maker Paul Crompton, plans are afoot for it to be used as part of a tell-all documentary about the show in Widnes.

The crowd at Spike Island, Widnes, in 1990 for the Stone Roses' gigThe crowd at Spike Island, Widnes, in 1990 for the Stone Roses' gig
The crowd at Spike Island, Widnes, in 1990 for the Stone Roses' gig | Paul Crompton / SWNS

Martin, 63, said: “It sat in my attic for 10 years then we moved house and I found this box of tapes. I’d been recording all day, I got the whole day from the build up to the finale. It’s been a bit of a burden really having this footage. Fans would describe it as the Holy Grail and I kind of feel responsible for it.”

Camera crews had been scheduled to record the concert but plans fell through after a row with the band’s record company. The gig has since reached mythological status among music fans as it was believed only 10 minutes worth of video footage existed. But Martin, who worked for the staging company, spent the day perched on a scaffolding tower above the sound deck with his Sony CCD-V8AF-E.

He and his brother digitized the footage and uploaded brief clips of it to YouTube, where it ‘sat in a dusty corner of the internet’ for more than 10 years. But it’s never been shown in its entirety, despite efforts to reach out to the band.

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Martin Cornell, whose Stone Roses Spike Island video footage is to be used in the documentary. Martin Cornell, whose Stone Roses Spike Island video footage is to be used in the documentary.
Martin Cornell, whose Stone Roses Spike Island video footage is to be used in the documentary. | Martin Cornell / SWNS

Martin added: “It was my day off so I had two options – sit in my hotel room on my own or go down to the concert. I thought I’d go along and I always take photos for prosperity but I thought I’d take some video in case there were some health and safety concerns so we had evidence that everything was adhered to.

“I was sat about the sound deck, which might be why the sound I’ve got is so much better than everybody says it was because they were on the floor. It wasn’t until I dug it out ages later that I realised what I had, but by then the band had split up.

“We tried to garner interest and I reached out to the band’s management, but I didn’t hear anything back, it was never followed up by anyone. My brother got a YouTube channel set up and uploaded a few clips, but it’s sat in a dusty corner of the internet for 10 years.”

Documentary producer Paul Crompton. Documentary producer Paul Crompton.
Documentary producer Paul Crompton. | Paul Crompton / SWNS

Paul, who was at the gig, said he was excited by the prospect of showing the event in all its glory. He was introduced to Martin by Matt Mead, a freelance journalist who is working a book about the show and who runs a social media account dedicated to the band’s drummer Alan ‘Reni’ Wren. Nothing is set in stone yet as the documentary project is still unfunded and at an early stage, but he hopes to use new AI technology to enhance the original footage.

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Paul, 56, said: “I believe this footage is absolute gold dust and this is a legendary story that deserves to be told. It’s incredible from a documentary point of view, you have all the ingredients for a great story.

“AI is the saviour of this stuff, it can make it better and really bring it to life. You only get things like this come across your lap once in a blue moon, it’s just incredible. The next stage is to get it motoring and off the ground. We need to have conversations with the band and the record company, there’s some big decisions to be had yet."

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