Tributes are flowing for Kiwi music Icon Ray Columbus who passed away peacefully at his home north of Auckland today after a four-year battle with ill health.

Columbus, 74, leaves behind his wife Linda, two children, six grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

Dave Dobbyn told the Herald it was sad to hear of Columbus' death.

"He was a great guy and full of energy. I always thought of him as a young man and a legend. He and The Invaders certainly blazed a trail, and our own pop music was better for it. Goodbye Mr Ray Columbus, I'll see you at that heavenly gig. Love and Peace to your family and friends."


"Farewell, Ray Columbus. We'll crank She's A Mod in the office in your honour" tweeted Intelligent Ink.

Good friend and singer Suzanne Lynch said Columbus was like a big brother to her.

"He was a great mentor to so many New Zealand musicians and artists.

"It's a sad day for me. He was such a positive energy to have around."

Columbus was Lynch's mentor and manager.

"He taught me professionalism. Like how to dress and how to be right on time," she said.

Ray Woolf, who met Columbus in 1962 at a club where the Invaders were playing, said he was surprised to hear today's news as the last time he saw the singer a few weeks ago, he seemed okay.

"Not only was he a performer and band leader but he was also a whizz kid at the business side of the game, which very few of us are.

"People in the New Zealand music industry can learn a lesson from that. He paved the way for all the bands that are in America now and helped a lot of other people."

Recorded Music New Zealand has said the music community is saddened to hear the news of Columbus' passing.

"Our sincere condolences to his family and friends. Inducted into the NZ Music Hall of Fame in 2009 alongside his Invader bandmates, Ray was an inspirational pioneer of NZ pop music and will be remembered fondly by the industry and public alike."

Kiwi music legend Ray Columbus dies
When Steve Braunias met Ray Columbus

Many echoed the same sentiment.

"We're very saddened to hear of the passing of Ray Columbus," said NZ Music Hall of Fame.

"A true legend of NZ music, not only a pioneer and consummate showman, but a vocal advocate for the local music industry, not to mention a wonderful person as well. Our condolences go out to Ray's family and many friends; you will be dearly missed."

David Hartnell, patron of the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand, said Columbus was one of the first Kiwi entertainers to be recognised internationally.

"He will be remembered as one of our iconic entertainers."

So privileged to have worked and shared a stage with this man. Loved his tales of his world traveled maracas. RIP Ray. Rest easy old friend. 2016 please just stop it already! Stop taking our talent!

Posted by Labretta Suede on Monday, 28 November 2016

Columbus suffered a heart attack in 2004 and a stroke in 2008.

In 2014, he was terminally ill with an immune-deficiency problem believed to be caused by heavy medication he was taking for a raft of ailments. He was standing as a candidate in Auckland local body elections in 2004 when he had a heart attack and subsequently had to withdraw.

Columbus enjoyed more than three decades at the top of NZ entertainment as a singer, songwriter, bandleader, music manager and TV star.

He's 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

• 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).

New Zealand entertainer Ray Columbus with wife Linda and their dog Fleur, pictured in their home at Snells Beach, north of Auckland in 2016. Photo / Brett Phibbs
New Zealand entertainer Ray Columbus with wife Linda and their dog Fleur, pictured in their home at Snells Beach, north of Auckland in 2016. Photo / Brett Phibbs