60s New Zealand music Icon Ray Columbus has passed away peacefully at his home north of Auckland today after a four year battle with ill health.
Ray Columbus enjoyed more than three decades at the top of NZ entertainment as a singer, songwriter, bandleader, music manager and TV star.
He won every major award in NZ show business including, Entertainer of the Year, The Benny Award, APRA Silver Scroll (twice for top songwriter), Top Entertainer on TV and Promoter/Manager of the Year. With his band The Invaders he received The Legacy Award at the 2009 New Zealand Music Awards and was the first pop star in the British Commonwealth to be awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Born in Christchurch on 4 November 1942, Columbus made his stage debut as a mini Fred Astaire at age six. After 10 years of song and dance, inspired by Elvis Presley, he switched to Rock N Roll where he enjoyed 14 hit records including the international hit songs She’s A Mod (with The Invaders - which was the first NZ record to hit #1 in Australia) and Till We Kissed (#1 in NZ/top 10 in Australia and a Top 60 pick in the USA Billboard Magazine).
Ray toured New Zealand 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 and starred in three Royal Command Performance Concerts and on more than 1,000 TV shows including That’s Country and C’Mon. In 2011 he released his auto biography Ray Columbus: The Modfather.
Ray leaves behind two children, three grandchildren and his loving wife Linda.
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