On June 3, 1990 an estimated 250,000 people enjoyed performances of pop, rock, folk, jazz and classical music from more than fifty artists, spread over eleven hours. Three stages at George Square, Custom House Quay and Glasgow Green allowed mainly Scottish artists to perform before huge live audiences, with millions more watching on Channel4.

JUST how big a day it was became apparent immediately on arrival at a jam-packed Waverley Station in Edinburgh that morning. Even with extra trains laid on for the event, standing room was still at a premium. We set off west towards the European City of Culture, to join a crowd that would total between 250,000 and half a million – adding up to the then-biggest ever musical event in Scotland, the UK or Europe, depending on your sources. As inroads began on a brewery’s worth of carry-outs, these unanimous high spirits were abetted by the garrulous lady who took over the conductor’s Tannoy to regale us with her own running commentary.

We spilled out at Queen Street into George Square, teeming with “the denim brigade” – so dubbed next day by this very organ, in contrast to the classical and opera buffs widely seen as being over-indulged by the Year of Culture programme.

With four open-air stages around the city, plus legions of street entertainers, The Big Day was billed as a free people’s festival to rival the Notting Hill Carnival, Mardi Gras and Woodstock rolled into one, and on this occasion the 1990 hype did not prove overblown. Headliners Deacon Blue closed the night before a totally loved-up sea of people on Glasgow Green, with Ricky Ross delivering an impassioned anti-Tory tirade and dedicating Orphans to unemployed miners.

REM’s Michael Stipe prompted the biggest scrum at the smallest Riverside Stage, on Customhouse Quay, and other top turns came from acts as diverse as Aswad, Nanci Griffith and Les Negresses Vertes. A powerhouse Scottish contingent also included Hue and Cry, Wet Wet Wet, Love and Money, and Big Country.

Sue Wilson from The Scotsman’s Top 20 Scottish Gigs of All Time