Ray Columbus Stories

Ray Columbus and the Rolling Stones


Ray Columbus loved telling stories, and none more than the time his band the Invaders supported the Rolling Stones on their Australasian tour in 1965. Behind the scenes there was a little argy bargy, when Columbus suggested that his band share the stage gear of the lead act: it would save time and sound better. This version of the story dates from 2006: 

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Columbus Invades America


In July 1966 Columbus arrived in San Jose, in the San Francisco Bay area, to a flurry of articles in the local press. Most of these played on the obvious “America discovers Columbus” angle. Before arriving Columbus had secured a local management deal. Warning bells went off immediately as it soon became apparent that the manager intended to book Columbus on the supper club circuit, and had arranged an audition with Julie Andrews’s producer.

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The Mod’s Nod


During their early stint in Australia the Invaders became aligned with the mod counterculture. “When we were playing the Surf City in Sydney, the place would be packed every night with up to 2,000 surfies and rockers,” Columbus recalled. “The rockers would be jiving away, while the surfies would be doing this Neanderthal thing called the ‘Surf Stomp’. The kids wanted to know what camp we were in so we told them that we were mods. I then devised a dance which I called the Mod’s Nod, which was, among other things, a cross between the Hitchhike and the Stomp with the emphasis on shaking as much hair around your face as possible. The whole mod thing caught the attention of Jack Argent from Leeds Music Publishers, who saw our act and approached us with a demo of a track called ‘She’s A Mod’.”

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Ray Columbus on 1950s Christchurch


Beneath its conservative surface, in the 1950s Christchurch had a thriving underworld hip to popular culture, Ray Columbus said. “It has two really good things going for it as far as music goes,” he told Roger Watkins in a 1992 oral history interview for the Alexander Turnbull Library. There was the strong connection with Britain, and the Cathedral Square.

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