New Zealand music legend Ray Columbus has died at the age of 74.
He passed away peacefully at his home north of Auckland today after a four year battle with ill health.
Born in Christchurch on 4 November 1942, Columbus made his stage debut as a mini Fred Astaire at age six. He shot to fame in the early '60s when his band Ray Columbus & the Invaders covered The Senators' 'She's a Mod'.
The song became the first New Zealand record to top the Australian charts and made Columbus a household name.
Celebrated music mogul Paul Ellis describes Columbus as a "trailblazer".
"He was a complete gentleman and never stopped being a gentleman," says Ellis.
"It's like Elvis has died."
Not everyone appreciated the iconic 'Mod's Nod' dance that went with his original hit - least of all the director of the song's music video.
"You hear the voice come down from up high from the director, saying 'Someone put some lacquer on that idiot's hair'...'cause I was shaking it all over!" Columbus once recalled.
But the public loved it.
Columbus & the Invaders followed up that success a year later with 'Til We Kissed', and had other hits including 'People Are People', 'Willie & The Hand Jive', 'Travelling Singing Man', 'Happy In A Sad Kinda Way', 'Yoyo', 'Now You Shake' and 'Hold Me'.
Columbus toured in concert with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones, Roy Orbison, Shirley Bassey, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Ben E King and Robin Gibb.
In 2002 he toured with the Long Way To The Top - the history of Australian Rock N Roll show, which saw him perform to over 220,000 people in 20 arena concerts throughout Australia.
But it wasn't just as a musician that Columbus enjoyed success. He also became one of the earliest stars of New Zealand television with his own show Club Columbus and work on Happen Inn and C'mon.
Columbus went on to work in event management and promotion. He also managed Christchurch band Zed.
In a career spanning four decades, Columbus won every major award in NZ show business including Entertainer of the Year, The Benny Award, two APRA Silver Scrolls, Top Entertainer on TV and Promoter/Manager of the Year. In 2009 he and his Invaders band members were inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame.
Whether it was performing or presenting, Columbus loved the limelight and New Zealand loved him right back.
"I'm a vaudevillian basically, a modern day vaudevillian," said Columbus.
"And TV gave me a chance to exploit that. Thank you TV."
Columbus had been suffering from poor health ever since a heart attack in 2004.
Ray leaves behind two children, three grandchildren and his loving wife Linda.