Ray Columbus

Full name:   Ray Columbus
Hometown:   Christchurch, New Zealand
Career began:   
First Record:   
Recording Labels:   
First album:   
Official Website:   www.sergent.com.au/columbusinv.html


Ray Columbus ...

Ray Columbus and the Invaders, one of the 1960's New Zealand's legendary rock and roll bands, were the first New Zealand act to reach the top of the Australian charts with a number one hit.  Ray Columbus, a local Christchurch boy, perplexed the Brothers at Xavier College with his arrival at school with traces of lipstick on his face, from his prize winning tap dancing competition days.  Ray, being a born entrepreneur, soon worked out that he had a good chance of winning the school talent quest and quickly wowed the boys with his renditions of the latest "Rock" songs.  In 1959 he formed his first band "The Dominoes" and worked hard at getting gigs at weddings and other local occasions.  He got his first break when he was asked to fill in for the lead singer in the Downbeats Band, at the local Spencer Street Dance.  He soon became the permanent lead singer and eventually the band became known as Ray and the Drifters.  Ray was forever looking for new music and new sounds and took advantage of the music coming into Christchurch through the Deep Freeze Servicemen who came into town looking for rock and roll music and the ladies to dance it with.

Brian Ringrose, Max Merrit and Ray Columbus                   Dion Murphy and Ray Columbus                            Ray Columbus and The Invaders

  In 1962 Ray was offered his own TV show "Club Columbus" and after taking advice from Howard Morrison, Ray took the plunge and moved to work in Auckland and renamed the group "Ray Columbus and the Invaders".  Indeed they did take Auckland by storm. Ray was a natural extrovert, this along with his original style and flamboyance, plus the band in their smart suits, cool gear, the technical brilliance of Dave Russell and Wally Scott, gave them an edge over local competition.  They soon had a large Auckland following.  Their first single "Money Lover", had Ray's original lyrics and music from lead guitarist Dave Russell.  The Invaders first two attempts at recording didn't hit the right note with the public and in November 1963 they moved to Sydney searching for stardom.  Their first gig was at Surf City, Sydney's top teenage venue.  Ray then appeared on the TV programs "Bandstand" and "Sing Sing Sing".  After this Ray Columbus and the Invaders did hit the right note and the audiences liked it.  Buoyed up by great crowds and good performances they returned to New Zealand in February 1964, secure in their high Australian profile.  In June that year, they released "She's A Mod" in New Zealand where it received a cool reception.  The song had previously been a hit in the U.K. for "The Senators" (a group which featured future Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham), and was written by that group's lead singer.  Ray and the Invaders returned to Sydney and there "She's A Mod" went on to No.1 position on the charts nationally in Australia.  Recorded in Sydney, and written by the group themselves, the follow-up single, "Yo-Yo" failed to reach the charts in Australia, but made Number One back home in New Zealand.  In July 1965, Ray Columbus and the Invaders cover of Gerry and The Pacemakers "Till We Kissed", reached the Top Ten in Sydney, and became their biggest hit yet in New Zealand.  It won a Gold Disc Award and was released in the United States as "I've Been Waiting".  Due to unsuccessful attempts to break into the US market, caused by the US Consulate refusing them work permits, Jimmy Hill and Billy Kristian (Karaitiana) decided to leave the Invaders and join Max Merritt and the Meteors.  Ray Columbus decided to take on a solo career.  In July 1966, Ray and his American wife shifted to California and for two years performed as Ray Columbus and The Arc Collection.  Ray then returned to New Zealand and began his own record label and publishing company.  In 1974 he was awarded an OBE for his services to the New Zealand entertainment business.  Ray Columbus and The Invaders reformed for a farewell tour in 1994, with Dave Russell, Jimmy Hill and Brian Ringrose (taking the place of Wally Scott who passed away in 1980) ....

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In September 2006, Ray took part in the Spencer Street Revival at Christchurch Cathedral as part of the Christchurch Cathedral 150 year Jubilee Celebrations along with local Christchurch musicians and entertainers from those heady 1960 Rock 'n' Roll days.  The following year he was back to perform at the 2007 ROCKONZ Festival which was held in the Christchurch Town Hall, and to receive an International Star's Award from Christchurch Mayor, Garry Moore.