IT WAS 60 years ago today that a young boy band who were to go on to take the world by storm played the last of four gigs in one year at the Rialto in York.

The band, of course, was The Beatles. But 60 years ago the Fab Four were just beginning to emerge on the world stage.

They quickly made an impression on the hip young York audiences who went along to see them, however – in fact, many who witnessed those performances never forgot them.

The Beatles played in York four times in 1963, all at the Rialto in Fishergate - on February 27 1963, March 13 1963, May 29 1963, and finally November 27 1963 - 60 years ago exactly.

But what was it like to see the young Beatles play live?

Just over ten years ago, on the 50th anniversary of the first - February - gig, former Press reporter Richard Catton interviewed some of the fans who were there that night.

Here’s what he wrote:

IT was the night exactly 50 years ago when an audience in York got to see music history in the making at a performance by a certain up-and-coming “Liverpool quartet”.

The Beatles, who on February 27, 1963, were just beginning to create the buzz which would later turn into full-blown Beatlemania, took to the stage of the Rialto in Fishergate.

Lynn Martin, a sub-editor at The Press, was an excited 13-year-old at the time and remembers the show.

She said: “I remember my mother bought me the ticket. You couldn’t hear anything because of all the screaming but we could see them on the stage.

“You just couldn’t believe that there they were in front of you. George was my hero.”

The Beatles would go on to play the venue a further three times that year, according to local Beatles fan Alan Wrigglesworth.

Alan said: “When the Beatles arrived in York that first time they had achieved only one modest chart hit to their name (Love Me Do had reached number 17 in the charts, late the previous year), but they were then currently standing second in the charts, with Please Please Me.

“The Beatles were only a support act, to Helen Shapiro. By the time of the York concert, she had been in the top ten six times, twice at number one.”

The night itself saw fans disappointed when Shapiro cancelled her performance due to flu. The Evening Press from February 28, however, told how the Fab Four went down a storm with the crowd.

Our reviewer at the time wrote: “Screams of delight greeted The Beatles – a Liverpool quartet who obliged with the songs they wrote themselves and which have taken them into the Hit Parade – Love Me Do and Please Please Me.”

According to Mr Wrigglesworth, The Beatles played the Rialto three more times that year – once without John Lennon, who was also stuck down with flu.

Their final performance there came on November 27 and by that time The Beatles topped the bill, having had their last two releases, From Me To You and She Loves You, reach the top of the charts.

Our coverage at the time noted a senior policeman who said there had been no disturbances on the night, just “good-natured enthusiasm” and that “everything went off very smoothly.”

Bill Hearld, former journalist with The Press, recalls how it felt to be at one of those very early gigs by The Beatles in York.

He said: "It was my first concert and it was to see what was to become the biggest British music phenomenon of the century.

"But, hell, it was so long ago my memories are a blur. My most vivid memory is of queueing outside the Rialto in what, as a 16-year-old lad from Goole, seemed the biggest, most excited crowd I had ever seen.

"My girlfriend – who later became my first wife – and I both remember best that we had just got our first motorbike and standing there in our black leather jackets, we thought we were the bee’s knees. And so cool to be seeing The Beatles.

"Inside, I recall the girls screaming hysterically, that I was disappointed in The Beatles’ live singing, but it was magical to hear Please, Please Me and Love Me Do, still my favourite Beatles numbers.

"And it was my first of two encounters with the soon-to-be legends. A few months later, as a young cub reporter, I covered a case at Goole Magistrates' Court where George Harrison turned up to plead guilty to driving without due care and attention on the group’s way home from a concert in Hull. And I even had hair – cut as close to a Beatles look as my bossy editor would allow."

John Hattersley-Colson was the manager of York’s Rialto concert hall in February 1963 and in 2013 told the Press about his memories of the night.

He recalls how they arrived by a big Austin Princess car, and stopped for a drink at the Edinburgh Arms. He said: “They were nice young lads, there were no airs and graces with them. They were ordinary lads like me.

“The show was fantastic, it went very well indeed. People who went never forgot it.

“When they became really famous I thought ‘I had a mug of tea with those lads and a laugh and a joke and a giggle with them’.”

Also in 2013, Gill Thompson recalled how The Beatles stayed at her parents pub - The Edinburgh Arms - after the gig.

The pub was a stone's throw away from the Rialto and many famous acts stayed there in the 1960s.

As a teenager living at the York pub in the early 1960s, Gill had a unique opportunity to meet some of the biggest rock and pop stars of the 20th century. Many signed her autograph book, including The Beatles.

The Edinburgh Arms was run by her parents, Merrik and Muriel Bousfield.

Jack Prendergast and the Rialto

For many in York, the Rialto itself will be forever associated with legendary proprietor Jack Prendergast – father of Oscar-winning film composer John Barry.

As related in the late York historian Van Wilson’s book ‘Something in the Air’, Prendergast came to York in the late 1920s, when he bought what was then known as the Casino Cinema. Jack rechristened it the Rialto, and turned the rollerskating rink in the back into a ballroom.

Over the next few decades the Rialto survived a devastating fire and the outbreak of war (Jack himself led the wartime York auxiliary fire brigade) to become a key live music venue, which attracted young performers who went on to become some of the biggest names in the music business.

These included Louis Armstrong (in 1932) and , after the war, the king of skiffle, Lonnie Donegan (in 1956) and the ‘English Elvis', Cliff Richard, in 1959.

Others to have appeared at the Rialto include the likes of Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Sarah Vaughan – not to mention, in March 1957, the debut performance of the John Barry Seven.

In 1964, a year after the Beatles had made four appearances at the venue, a young Mick Jagger was also put in an appearance.

The Rialto is long gone now - replaced by a new purpose-built Mecca bingo hall which has itself now been demolished.

But the memories live on...