Columbus (left) on television in the early 1970s
4 November 1942|
Christchurch, New Zealand
|Died||29 November 2016 (aged 74)
Snells Beach, New Zealand
|Associated acts||Ray Columbus & The Invaders|
Raymond John Patrick "Ray" Columbus OBE (4 November 1942 – 29 November 2016) was a New Zealand Benny Award-winning singer and songwriter, television host, music manager and entertainer, with a career spanning six decades. As the lead singer of Ray Columbus & the Invaders, his best-known hit was "She's A Mod".
Columbus got his big break playing with the Downbeats Band which later became Ray and the Drifters. He relocated to Auckland when he was offered a TV show titled Club Columbus, whereupon he changed the band's name to Ray Columbus & the Invaders in 1964. The Invaders were known for their Fender guitars, dance moves and lavish clean-cut outfits. In 1964, the Invaders released their best-known song, "She's a Mod" The track was written by British musician Terry Beal for his group The Senators, but was not a hit for his group. "She's A Mod" became a number one hit in Australia—the first song from a New Zealand group to reach the top of the charts in another country. In 1965, the band released the single "Till We Kissed", which sold fifty thousand units.
The Invaders' second album, Original Numbers, was the first album in New Zealand to include an entirety of self-composed songs.
After disbanding the Invaders, Columbus relocated to the United States for two years. Returning to New Zealand, he hosted numerous television pop shows including Ray Columbus presents New Faces, C'mon, Happen Inn and That's Country (which he co-created and helped sell to a US cable network). He was also a noted music manager, mentoring artists such as singer Suzanne Lynch. In the late 1990s he managed the rock band Zed.
As a solo artist, Columbus toured with The Rolling Stones, Roy Orbison and The Newbeats, as well as playing Royal Variety Performances and being an opening act of the 1974 New Zealand Commonwealth Games.
Columbus released a biography in 2011, which stated that he smoked for years and was a heavy drinker, which contributed to a later heart attack, and also participated in numerous sexual escapades. He suffered a heart attack in 2004, and a stroke in 2007 that left him partially paralysed. In April 2014, he was reported to be terminally ill, from an immune deficiency condition caused from medication.
- The Ray Columbus Album (1966)
- Hit Tracks (1969)
- Jangles, Spangles & Banners (1972)
- Ray Columbus – His 14 Greatest Hits (1974)
- Ray Columbus – The Solo Years (2004)
Honours and awards
In 1973, Columbus received the Benny Award from the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand Inc, the highest honour available to a New Zealand variety entertainer. In the 1974 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to entertainment. In 1990, Columbus received the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal for his promotion of New Zealand overseas.
- "Musician Ray Columbus has died at 74". Stuff.co.nz. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- "Biography: Ray Columbus". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- "Family flock to terminally-ill Columbus". Stuff/Fairfax. 16 April 2014.
- "NZ music legend Ray Columbus dies". Newshub. MediaWorks. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- "Kiwi music legend Ray Columbus dies". 1 News. 1 News. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- "Variety Artists Club of NZ Benny Award Recipients".
- "(Supplement) no. 46312". The London Gazette. 15 June 1974. p. 6831. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
- Columbus, Ray (2011). The Mod Father: Ray Columbus. London: Penguin UK. ISBN 1742287808.
- Ray Columbus, Ray Columbus: The Modfather: Life and Times of a Rock 'n' Roll Pioneer, Penguin Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0143206576