NZ music legend Ray Columbus has died in Auckland aged 74.
Columbus was best know for his 1964 hit She’s A Mod. Performed with his band The Invaders, it was the first song from a NZ group to reach the top of the charts in another country. His 2011 autobiography was appropriately titled The Modfather. Ray Columbus & The Invaders were inducted into the NZ Hall Of Fame in 2009 as part of the NZ Music Awards.
Ray was the first pop star in the British Commonwealth to be awarded an Order of the British Empire. He toured NZ and Australia with Roy Orbison, The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones, Herman’s Hermits, The Searchers, Del Shannon, Shirley Bassey, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Ben E King, The Hollies and many more. He also toured the USA with The Turtles, Eric Burdon & The Animals, starred in three Royal Command Performance Concerts and on more than 1,000 TV shows including That’s Country and C’Mon.
He was known to encourage and support young talent entering the music industry, notably championing Christchurch rock band Zed in the late 1990s.
“We have lost a legendary NZ musician, writer, manager, producer, promoter & friend with the passing of our mate Ray Columbus. He is, has been, and will always remain a significant presence in the history of popular music in New Zealand. It has been a real privilege to walk the boards with Ray on various tours throughout the past 50 years of my music life. Linda has been an exceptional partner to Ray. Her love and her devotion to his care & well being these past few years kept him so strong & so alive. Being a small part of their life has been a real honour for me. Along with my parents John and Lister, and my wife Gloria we send our condolences to Linda and the family. Rest in peace and give our collective love to that great band in the sky Mister C. Much love.” – Larry Morris (NZ Musicians’ Memories)
“I am so sad to hear of the passing of Ray Columbus. Ray and I both come from Christchurch, we both appeared on one of the first Television shows in Christchurch and sang a duet together at the end of each show. I have worked many times with Ray and the Invaders – We both appeared on the 2002 Australian arena show ‘Long Way To The Top’ and I also came over to Auckland and introduced Ray and the Invaders, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame [as part of the NZ Music Awards in 2009]. The last time I worked with Ray was for the Christchurch Earthquake appeal after the first big earthquake. Ray, Max Merritt and myself both received the Key To The City of Christchurch. Ray has done so much over the years for the young up and coming talent in New Zealand. He is a true legend of the New Zealand and Australian Music scene and will go down in the music history as a pioneer of sixties rock and roll. My thoughts are with Linda and his family; please pass on my deepest sympathy to them. May he rest in peace. Love.” – Dinah Lee (NZ Musicians’ Memories)