THE 4IP Big Band was back in town yesterday to kick off a weekend of celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the Ipswich Civic Centre.

Three original members of the band, drummer Mick Monaghan, guitarist Garry McDonald and trombonist Col Webb, returned to the stage they performed on in 1975 at the opening of the Civic Centre.

They still play regularly as part of the Allan Brown Big Band. The late Allan Brown formed the band with 4IP's then general manager Allen Brandt as the station's big promotional tool, playing at the QRL games, community events and at schools.

Allan's son Darren led the band yesterday in an emotional tribute for his father and for the centre.

The Ipswich Civic Centre was opened by then prime minister Gough Whitlam on July 19, 1975.

At that time Ipswich and eventually the rest of the south-east tuned in to Colour Radio 4IP and the Good Guys Billy J. Smith, John McCoy, Alan McGirvan, Gray Clark, Paul J Turner, Geoff Mullins and David Greenwood.

MC for yesterday's Seniors Concert David Greenwood was at the opening of the Civic Centre in 1975.

"It was an exciting time because the city really hadn't had anything like that," he said. "After the '74 floods particularly, it just boosted the whole city because it was something new, progress.

"In those days, to have an auditorium that would take 600 odd people, it was pretty special. But now, 600 seat halls have been surpassed."

Mayor Paul Pisasale and arts and cultural services chairman Charlie Pisasale also reflected on the role the Civic Centre had played and the need for a new performing arts complex.

"Forty years when you think of the acts and the different productions we have had held in this centre and how we're fighting now as we did 40 years ago for this centre, we really deserve a proper performing arts centre," Cr Charlie Pisasale said.

This weekend will be filled with events to mark the anniversary, including the Mayor's Command Performance featuring Kate Ceberano tonight and an open day tomorrow from 10am to 2pm.


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