FOR music lovers in Southend, 1963 was a very special year.

The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Dave Clarke Five all played at the old Odeon cinema in the High Street.

The bands were all photographed that year by music snapper Derek Cross, but the pictures had been forgotten and lay undiscovered in a drawer until recently.

All the images are now the subject of a photography exhibition at the Atelier Gallery in Leigh Broadway.

About 55 images will now be displayed for the next three weeks, giving people a chance to reminisce about their memories of seeing the bands in their heyday.

Val Miller saw the Beatles in 1963 with three schoolfriends who queued outside the Southend Odeon all night to get tickets.

She said: “I remember I was in secondary school at the time. The excitement was overwhelming.

“It was absolutely amazing. When we got the tickets we were over the moon.

“They wore the grey suits with the round collars. My favourite Beatle was John Lennon.

“I just thought he was wonderful and I loved his voice. It sounded so good above the screaming people who were nearly all girls.

“At the time, the Beatles were so refreshing and so different. It was really well organised and once we were in there, the atmosphere was electric.”

Gallery owner John Lidster said fans were delighted to relive the glory days of Southend’s music scene.

He said: “There has been quite a lot of excitement. There’s a beautiful portrait of Brian Jones from the Stones and some really nice shots of the Beatles.

“The first time the Beatles played they were second on the bill to Roy Orbison. But they were so popular, they headlined when they came back.”

Limited edition prints are available for sale direct from the gallery. The exhibition, entitled Unseen 1963, will be available to view until Sunday, November 29 every day from 10.30am until 5.30pm, apart from Wednesday.