Ray Columbus: More than just a mod video

Ray Columbus' contributions to Kiwi entertainment go well beyond laying claim to NZ's first international number one single.
Courtesy of AudioCulture.co.nz.

Ray Columbus' contributions to Kiwi entertainment go well beyond laying claim to NZ's first international number one single.

Pioneering Kiwi rocker Ray Columbus has died aged 74.

While best known for his 1964 hit She's A Mod with Ray Columbus & The Invaders, Columbus' contributions to Kiwi entertainment go well beyond laying claim to New Zealand's first international number one single.

SCREEN STAR

Legendary New Zealand musician Ray Columbus at his former Matakana home north of Auckland.
PETER MEECHAM

Legendary New Zealand musician Ray Columbus at his former Matakana home north of Auckland.

A staple on New Zealand television for decades, Columbus made his first TV appearance in 1961, performing solo on the light entertainment showcase Time Out For Talent.

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The following year he was offered his own musical variety show, Club Columbus - he was 19 at the time.

Later appearances - both as host and performer - included the NZBC's premier 60s music show C'mon, which went live to air, Sing, Happen Inn and That's Country, which he also co-created and eventually helped sell to a US cable network.

Columbus even popped up on the big screen, cameoing with The Invaders on the 1964 Kiwi thriller Runaway Killers, which also starred Barry Crump, Kiri Te Kanawa and 60s Bond girl Nadja Regin.

And he may well have been a part of New Zealand's first ever rock video, thanks to The Invaders having an Australian performance of She's A Mod filmed and shipped home - the first time footage of a band performing was used for promotional purposes in this country.

MUSICAL CONTEMPORARY

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Columbus toured New Zealand and Australia with The Rolling Stones, Roy Orbison, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, The Hollies, Herman's Hermits and many other popular artists. When touring New Zealand with the Stones and Orbison in 1965, the Invaders performed as The Big O's backing band in addition to taking the stage as Ray Columbus & The Invaders.

Columbus also toured the US with The Turtles and The Animals. During time spent in California from 1966 to 1968 he was offered auditions for both The Monkees and The Byrds, but turned both opportunities down.

MENTOR AND MANAGER

A successful music manager, most notably with late 90s Kiwi rock band Zed, Columbus played mentor to a number of local Kiwi artists, including Suzanne Lynch (and her sister Judy Hindman in 60s pop duo The Chicks), Tina Cross and Auckland pop-rock band The Rumour.

"A lot of people did really well in this business and it was singularly due to Ray's advice," said Lynch. "He took care of a lot of people's careers and a lot of well-known artists have a lot to thank him for."

AWARD-WINNER

Columbus seems to have won every major 500

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