Push to knight Colum­bus

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By SUE BREB­NER-FOX

Make Ray Colum­bus a sir.

That’s the call from the New Zealand mu­sic in­dus­try, lob­by­ing the gov­ern­ment to hon­our the rock ‘n’ roll leg­end who is se­ri­ously ill at his Omaha home un­der the lov­ing care of wife Linda.

And the driv­ers be­hind the knight­hood idea want it done sooner rather than wait for the New Year hon­ours – as was done for the late Sir Paul Holmes.

Singer Larry Mor­ris, who has been friends with Ray for most of his per­form­ing ca­reer, is one of many top New Zealand mu­si­cians who have writ­ten to the gov­ern­ment sup­port­ing the knight­hood bid in the New Year’s list.

But Larry says it would be great if the gov­ern­ment would bend the rules again, as it did with Sir Paul, and be­stow the top hon­our on Ray be­fore Christ­mas.

‘‘It would be the ic­ing on the cake for his long and suc­cess­ful ca­reer. Ray is so de­serv­ing of it. But he is so hum­ble he would be hor­ri­fied to hear about this,’’ he says.

‘‘I adore the man. He is strong and has a will to live.

‘‘ I am glad so many peo­ple care about him. I am just one of the many peo­ple who love Ray.’’

Australasian Per­form­ing Right As­so­ci­a­tion (Apra) di­rec­tor An­thony Healey says: ‘‘Apra whole­heart­edly supports ev­ery recog­ni­tion of Ray’s enor­mous con­tri­bu­tion to the New Zealand mu­sic in­dus­try, and to im­prov­ing the com­mu­nity as well.’’

He says Apra has writ­ten to the gov­ern­ment sup­port­ing a knight­hood for Ray.

Mu­si­cian Jor­dan Luck also wants to see Ray re­ceive the coun­try’s top hon­our.

‘‘It is be­lat­edly de­served. It is a happy thing in a sad kind of way.

‘‘There is very lit­tle that Ray hasn’t as­sisted with within the in­dus­try. He came to the early shows of the Dance Ex­po­nents. He said we were bril­liant and gave us some ad­vice on pro­duc­tion and live work. He was fan­tas­tic. He was a huge in­flu­ence on me when I was young. When I did meet up with him I was in awe of him.

‘‘If you wanted ad­vice, he was the man you would call up,’’ he says.

Both Jor­dan and Larry have vis­ited Ray re­cently and say he has a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude and is look­ing for­ward to his fam­ily join­ing him for Christ­mas.

The Depart­ment of the Prime Min­is­ter and Cab­i­net, which ad­min­is­ters the hon­ours list, says the en­tire process is con­fi­den­tial.

Ray was em­ployed by the Foun­da­tion for Al­co­hol and Drug Ed­u­ca­tion in the late 1980s and early 1990s as an event man­ager.

That’s be­cause he blames smok­ing for his ills, even though he gave it up 40 years ago.

He started smok­ing aged six, was ad­dicted by nine and puffed through up to 80 cig­a­rettes daily.

He is now a pas­sion­ate an­ti­smok­ing cam­paigner.

Ray has strong views on health is­sues and has come to ap­pre­ci­ate life’s fragility.

He suf­fered a heart at­tack 10 days be­fore the elec­tion when was run­ning for the for­mer Rod­ney Dis­trict Coun­cil in 2004.

He suf­fered a ma­jor stroke seven years ago and much of his right side was paral­ysed, al­though his health im­proved over time.

He has had a 54-year mu­sic ca­reer full of twists and turns and 14 hit records. The rock ‘ n roll pi­o­neer is known to New Zealan­ders from the hit sin­gle She’s a Mod with The In­vaders, and the pop­u­lar TV se­ries That’s Coun­try.

And there are his in­trigu­ing tales about tour­ing with the likes of The Rolling Stones and Roy Or­bi­son, and giv­ing up po­ten­tial fame and for­tune in the United States. Now New Zealand mu­si­cians want to give him a trib­ute and Christ­mas gift.

Photo: MARTIN HUNTER

Top trib­ute: Jor­dan Luck and Ray Colum­bus in 2010.

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