MEMORIES of performing ahead of The Beatles have been stirred up for a Darwen man after he read about the gig in the Lancashire Telegraph.

John Bentley, 66, of Earnsdale Road, was a rhythm guitarist with local five-piece band The Mustangs when they were the first on stage ahead of the Fab Four’s 1963 gig in the town.

As reported in the Lancashire Telegraph last week, a ticket for the event is set to be sold at auction for an estimated £800 to £1,200 tomorrow.

And Mr Bentley said he had vivid memories of a ‘great night’.

He said: “The event was organised by a man named Tom Proudlove from Bolton Road Baptist Youth Club who had seen them on Granada TV and booked them to play.

“I am not sure what The Beatles were paid but it was certainly more than the £3 that we got.

“Some 450 tickets were sold which filled the hall to capacity as everyone in town wanted to see these four young lads from Liverpool who were causing a sensation in the music business.

“What a night. My ears were ringing for hours afterwards.”

  • ABOVE: The Beatles as they sounded in 1963

The grandfather-of-two, who became the chair of governors at Avondale Primary School after retiring from his job as a senior buyer for BT, said the support acts were all able to go backstage and mingle with the headliners.

He said: “I remember crowding into the tiny changing room behind the stage to see and speak to The Beatles, who at the time were just four happy, wisecracking Scousers playing the music they loved.

“Paul McCartney said that a girl at the front grabbed his leg and wouldn’t let go.

“He thought he was going to be dragged off stage into the audience.

“It was a great night and one that I will certainly remember for the rest of my life.”

The band, also featured Russell Greenall on guitar, David Livesey on bass, singer Sammy McNally (stage name Ricky Day) and drummer Stan Hickey.