Push to knight Columbus
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.
Top tribute: Jordan Luck and Ray Columbus in 2010.