Forty-five years ago tonight, the Beatles gave their only concert in Oxford, playing for just 300 lucky music fans at a sell-out show in the Carfax Assembly Rooms.

Sharing the stage as the support act were Oxford group the Madisons, who enjoyed a close-up view of a band that was about to hit the big time - and tuned up with John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Former Madisons Will Jarvis and Neil Robinson knew there was something special about the young Liverpool group as soon as they took the stage.

Neil, 66, a former taxi driver, from Littlemore, was then a 21-year-old keyboard player. He said: "It was a sell-out. The word had just started to spread about this band The Beatles and there were girls standing up on tables around the room.

"It was the first time I ever saw people stood on them trying to get a better view. The girls were screaming and shouting and that was something we hadn't seen before too."

Although Beatlemania had yet to take off, Will, who was 17 at the time, was sure the Fab Four were destined for the top.

He said: "I had never seen it quite so crowded. The Beatles were doing a lot of covers at the time but they were doing it in such a way that we had never heard before. It was just raw music, it was totally different. Even in the early days, you could tell they were going to make it."

The Beatles scored their first number one hit a week later when Please Please Me topped the charts.

Will and Neil, who later played in Oxford band the Falling Leaves, jammed with Lennon and McCartney at a sound check, as Ringo Starr and George Harrison arrived late.

Will, 62, a carpenter, who lives in Marston Street, East Oxford, said: "They were nice guys. They were just like us at the time. I wasn't surprised at all they took off.

"Normally, when we played a gig, while the other band was on, we would go off for a drink, but that night, we hung around to watch."

"They were just young lads having a laugh. You could see that Lennon and McCartney were the driving force. I was just impressed by the way they could sing and play so well at the same time."

However, the experience was tainted for Neil when he realised after the show that his jacket had gone missing.

He said: "I reported it to the police, because it had my driving licence in it. The next day, I got a call from them saying they had found my jacket at the side of the road in Basingstoke but my wallet was gone. I didn't want the jacket back after that."

One person lucky enough to have a ticket for the concert was 15-year-old Syd Kearney, from Headington.

He said: "It was just an ordinary dance, we thought. The reason I was there was that a friend knew the Beatles after having seen them at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.

"It was a great night, but nobody thought they were going to be the phenomenon they ended up being."

Sid, now 60, was lucky enough to catch up with the Beatles backstage after the show and got their autographs, on part of a Morris Motors radiators branch document, which was the only piece of paper he had with him at the time.

In November that year, the Beatles were in Oxfordshire again, pausing to have lunch at the Windrush Inn, in Burford Road, Witney.