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First published November 2016, last updated December 2016

Kiwi music legend Ray Columbus passed away at his home north of Auckland on 29th November 2016, aged 74, after a four-year battle with ill health.  Ray was the first Kiwi to record an international No. 1 single when his band Ray Columbus and The Invaders hit 'She's A Mod' topped charts both sides of the Tasman in 1964.


After Ray passed, Tom Sharplin & I stayed with him for two and a half hours, at Ray and Linda's home on the water at Snell's Beach.  Linda was absent, in town seeing the Priest.  Ray & Linda's daughter Tina, home from the States, with her Accountant Hubby, were there, having arrived from New York at 9 in the morning.  The Poodle was also there, seeming out of whack to his usual bubbly self, no doubt grieving for his buddy Ray and wondering where Linda had gone?  I told them some true stories about my ten years in America, that had them in fits and Tom told them a few gags, we entertainers can’t help ourselves!  An hour into it Ray's Brother and his wife and their son arrived from Palmerston North.  Ray looked extremely cold to me, and felt real cold, as you do when you finally check out.  But we loved the fire engine red casket with white satin interior, Ray's pants matching the red coffin.  All Linda’s doing after talks with her husband about such things.  The multi platinum records on display at the end of the coffin where the tartan sand shoe sneakers he wore seemed to come alive.  Ray - Showman til the end and now orchestrating the first stage of his send off from his coffin.  No surprise there, bless his little heart.  So glad Linda asked us to go up and see him and the family.  So glad we went.  No more pain, no more strain, the Mod Father is gone but never will he be forgotten.  Much love people…… Larry Morris
Ray Columbus was a leader in the New Zealand Pop scene of the '60s. I guess he was a pioneer into the unknown world of NZ pop music where there were no "pathways" as now. A role model for us all, a real pro he ran and had respect from the tightest band in the land. I had the good fortune to work with Ray on C'mon 68 tour and appreciated his encouragement, professionalism along with his great sense of humour. Thanks Ray - Richard (Dick) Roberts
Ray was probably the biggest influence on the music scene in NZ in the 60s and we all owe dearly to him.  A true NZ great who will never be forgotten.  A great man gone to rock'n'roll heaven. May he rock forever and ever.  Amen. - John Walmsley
Saddened to hear about Ray Columbus. I remember him well from my Freddie Keil and The Kavaliers days sharing stages. Also when my sister Anne and I played Bandstand in Oz. We were proud to be part of the family of artists and watch fellow Kiwis do so well as ambassadors of our vibrant music scene. Ray wasn't afraid to be stylish and unique. I admired him and his band. The last time we spoke was in San Francisco and he told me about his big plans to introduce Fish and Chips to America. He was one of a kind and will be remembered as a class act who made the world a better place. My condolences to his family. - Jimmy Murphy
Ray Columbus and The Invaders were the style of band we all aspired to in the 60's. Great band with a great showman frontman. It was an honour to be on the same bill a couple of times way back when. - Bill Ward
Ray Columbus R.I.P.  To a legend indeed. - Dave Duffell
A true New Zealand legend. When Ray and the Invaders moved to Auckland most of the local bands were stunned, these guys were really good, so the standard of the local bands lifted, they had to, to compete with the real talent of Ray and the Invaders. I met Ray and members of the Invaders through the years and although I never worked with him I sang "She's a Mod" in my Australian shows and the crowd responded when I mentioned the head shaking mop haired star who made the song famous. You will be sadly missed Ray by all us aging musicians - Patrick Harrison
I am so sad to hear of the passing of Ray Columbus. Ray and I both come from Christchurch and 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 appeared on the 2002 Australian Arena Show 'Long Way To The Top' and the last time I worked with Ray was for the Christchurch Earthquake appeal after the first big earthquake  Ray along with Max Merritt and myself both received the Key to The City of Christchurch. I also came over to Auckland and introduced Ray and the Invaders who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ray has done so much over the years for the young up and coming talent in New Zealand. Ray Columbus a true Legend of the New Zealand and Australian Music scene will go down in the music history as a pioneer of the 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
R.I.P. Ray what a sad loss to us all who remember the earliest days of your amazing career from when I first met you at the Wellington Town Hall show. You blitzed the crowd with your opening number along with The Invaders 'If you hear somebody knocking, on your door.' Our industry will sadly miss you and my sincere condolences to his family and friends. - Tom McDonald
We knew this was coming however I was stunned to hear the news nonetheless. RIP Ray - Ian Saxon
This has NOT been a great year for musicians eh, I’m still in shock at my great mate Bruce Robinson’s death this year, (The Pleazers) now NZ’s Icon of music, is gone. Ray Columbus and The Invaders, who toppled The Beatles and The Rolling Stones off the charts in the 60’ who for a band from ‘Down Under’ then, your world music credentials doesn’t get much better than that. Having recorded (on drums along with Ron Peel on bass) the last two numbers of the his LP ‘Original Numbers’ back in 1965, my admiration for his total commitment to a quality recording has no peer. Ray Columbus will be missed more than people in the music world in NZ might appreciate. R I P Ray. - Denis Gilmore 
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 & 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
An inspiration to us all. RIP Ray. - Alan Galbraith
First experienced Ray and the Invaders in early 60s Taita Youth Club. What a fireball. Then my first day in Sydney 1965. They were with Roy Orbison and Rolling Stones.  Doing the Nod. Ray was an ultimate showman... A fireball. Take a bow Ray Columbus. You're an inspiration. Long you will rock. - Andy Anderson  
(email me your tribute to Ray and I'll add it in - andy@nzmusos.co.nz)


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