The Ray Columbus Collection

Ray Columbus hosted his first television show at 19; at that point he'd already been singing in a band for around five years. After Ray Columbus and the Invaders topped Australasian charts with 1964 single 'She's a Mod', he spent two years playing music in the United States. The song and style defined the era for a generation of local music fans. Columbus later returned to work as recording artist, TV presenter and talent manager, becoming a Kiwi showbiz legend in the process. This career-spanning collection celebrating Ray Columbus on screen offers a nod to the mod.

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She's a Mod

Ray Columbus and The Invaders, Music Video, 1964

Not exactly a music video, more a prototype. This promo film clip for the Kiwi classic was taken from the band's appearance on the Aussie TV show Bandstand in 1964. It's black and white and very basic, but the band has zoot suits; high slung guitars, as was the way of the time; and all the right moves. A very young-looking Ray Columbus has the beginnings of a Beatles hair-do, and is forever captured in time doing the legendary 'mod's nod'. This was the first time a film clip of a band performing was used for promo purposes in NZ.

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Ray Columbus: Creator of the Mod's Nod...

Interview, Camera and Editing – Andrew Whiteside

Singer and television presenter Ray Columbus, OBE, became a headline act in 1961 when he appeared on Time Out for Talent at the age of 18. He went on to perform on or host a huge range of music and light entertainment TV shows including: Club Columbus, C’Mon, Happen Inn, Personality Squares and That’s Country. With his band Ray Columbus and the Invaders, he had two big hits with ‘She’s a Mod’ and ‘Till We Kissed’.

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'Till We Kissed

Ray Columbus and The Invaders, Music Video, 1965

Another black and white prototype music video from Ray Columbus and the Invaders. Ray and the band planned and directed this one themselves, at Peach Studios in Auckland. The song is a ballad, and it's a more restrained performance than the clip for She's a Mod, but the 1960s zoot suits and aloof rock star poses are still there. 'Till We Kissed' was a Top 10 hit, and won the first ever Loxene Golden Disc Award in 1965.  

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Ray Columbus

Ray Columbus, OBE, began hosting television shows at the tender age of 19. After Columbus and the Invaders topped Australasian charts with 1964 single 'She's a Mod', Columbus spent time as a musician in America. The song was covered multiple times. He later returned to Aotearoa to resume a long career as recording artist, TV presenter and talent manager. Columbus passed away in late November 2016. 

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That's Country - 20 March 1982

Television, 1982 (Excerpts)

Hosted by one-time mod Ray Columbus, That's Country was one of the highest rating shows of the early 80s. This 1982 episode features veteran Kiwi country performers (John Hore, Patsy Riggir) and trans-Tasman pop star Dinah Lee. The opening ensemble number features Canadian singer Glory-Anne Carriere and US duo the Gypsy Mountain Pickers, along with Australian Jade Hurley (who still bills himself as the King of Country Rock). Check out the rhinestone cowboys and girls as they belt out the theme song, then settle in for solo performances. Yee-ha!

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A Girl to Watch Music By - Ray Columbus and Max Cryer

Television, 1969 (Excerpts)

Although made to showcase female singers, late 60s series A Girl to Watch Music By is possibly best remembered for the moment Ray Columbus became a puppet. In this episode host Columbus played ventriloquist's dummy, sitting on Max Cryer's knee. Wrote Cryer later in his book Town Cryer: "it looked very funny and we knew it and set to work on the choreography immediately." The song is called 'Where Would You Be Without Me'. The ventriloquist idea, which would be repeated again on rare "special occasions", was the brainchild of broadcaster Cherry Raymond.

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Royal Variety Performance Show 1981

Television, 1981 (Full Length)

This live TV spectacular documents an 18 October 1981 Royal Variety performance in front of the touring Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh. Performers in St James Theatre included Ray Columbus (in That's Country mode), Sir Howard Morrison and John Rowles. Dance is represented by Limbs and the Royal New Zealand Ballet, while McPhail and Gadsby and Billy T James deliver pre-PC gags. There’s a show stopping all-singing all-dancing finale, and what seems like the entire roster of NZ showbiz of the time lines up to greet the Queen, including Lyn of Tawa.

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Sir Howard Morrison - Time of My Life

Television, 1995 (Full Length)

Ol’ Brown Eyes celebrates 40 years in showbiz with this variety concert, alongside some of his mates including Ray Columbus and Bunny Walters. The show is mostly live entertainment, punctuated by a few nostalgic field stories where Sir Howard acknowledges his upbringing and Māoritanga. The show ends with the Morrison whānau performing, followed by the hymn that gave Sir Howard a number one hit in 1982: ‘How Great Thou Art’.  This TV special was dedicated to Sir Howard’s mother Kahu, who was an outstanding singer in her own right.

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Good Day - The Music and Record Industry

Television, 1978 (Full Length)

This 1978 documentary casts a critical eye over a depressed NZ music industry, and asks what has changed since its 60s glory days of pop stars, screaming fans and C’mon. By the late 70s, few musicians are earning a living and chart hits have dwindled (although the recording industry is bullish). Ray Columbus waxes lyrical about ‘She’s a Mod’. Kevan Moore and Peter Sinclair are sanguine about TV’s role, a finger is pointed at radio airplay, and the careers of Craig Scott, Mark Williams, Sharon O’Neill and John Rowles are considered. The only thing not in short supply is blame.