RAY COLUMBUS & THE INVADERS
It’s impossible to think of Ray Columbus & The Invaders without hearing a mental replay of “She’s A Mod”, the group’s 1964 smash hit that still sounds as fresh and energetic as the day it was minted. New Zealand’s answer to British Invasion bands, Ray Columbus & The Invaders, originally from Christchurch, in their brief reign brought with them a wave of beat music excitement to our shores that was unparalleled.
“She’s A Mod” may have been written by a Brit, but we owned it, and we owned Ray, and his Invaders. So much so that when, in 1965, the group took part in a package tour through Australia and NZ with international acts The Rolling Stones and Roy Orbison, there was no inferiority complex for the equally professional local lads.
It was a halcyon few years that started with the conquering of Auckland in 1963, and creaming it in Australia in the subsequent two years. It had all begun with a Christchurch band called The Downbeats. The diminutive, 17-year-old Columbus was already a dapper, hard-smoking professional when he auditioned and got the job as the group’s singer. Over time, all the original members left and were replaced, and The Invaders emerged, the classic lineup eventually featuring seminal guitarist (and Ray’s writing partner) Dave Russell, and bassist Billy Kristian.
When “She’s A Mod” was released in June 1964, local radio would not play it, but because it was a number 1 single in Australia, big sales eventuated here too. Other Invaders songs like “Yo-Yo” and the big ballad “Till We Kissed” made a mark, but failed to score a top 10 placing.
The breakup was swift when it came. With Columbus wanting to take the next step and head for America, the nucleus of his band defected to join Max Merrit and his Meteors.
Ray Columbus (vocals) • Billy Kristian (bass) • Dave Russell (guitar)