Pop Archives

Mr Lee Grant - Opportunity (1967)

(Warren Joyner - Robert Harshman [Bobby Hart] - John Marascalco)
New Zealand New Zealand
#1 New Zealand

Single on HMV (NZ), peaked at #1 in June 1967. Also released on Columbia in Australia (1968) with his next NZ hit Thanks To You as the A-side.

This was the first of six New Zealand hits 1967-68 by popular New Zealand singer and TV star, real name Bogdan Kominowski (b.1945). He charted highly in NZ: they went 1, 1, 2, 1, 5, 6. Thanks To You followed Opportunity to #1 three months later. See also: Why Or Where Or When.

Adopting Mr to avoid confusion with an actress of the same name, Lee Grant became a pop superstar in New Zealand largely through his residency on the TV show C’mon 67. In 1968 he went to the UK, where he recorded some singles as Lee Grant (and one under his real name), but he eventually concentrated on acting. As Bogdan Kominowski he has been seen on stage (Phantom of the Opera), on TV (he had a continuing role in Brushstrokes) and in films (A View to Kill, Jack Ryan:Shadow Recruit): see his filmography at IMDb

Further reading: 1. “Mr Lee Grant’s Opportunity to Wed”, The New Zealand Herald, 26 May 2013 (thanks to Terry Stacey). 2. Mr Lee Grant page at Bruce Sergent’s NZ Music site.

Jason Dene - Opportunity (1966)

(Warren Joyner - Robert Harshman [Bobby Hart] - John Marascalco)

Bristol, 1966. Full story here

Single on Parlophone, produced by the prolific British songwriter-producer Tony Hiller: see the Mega-discography at his website.

Jason Dene was Keith Cook (born c.1945), previously known as Paul Darrin when he sang with Bristol band The Diplomats.

Keith’s brother is Roger Cook who with Roger Greenaway wrote many classic songs of the 60s and recorded as David And Jonathan. Opportunity’s B-side It’s Me is a Greenaway-Cook composition.

As Keith told it to the Bristol’s Evening Post, he recorded a demo for the single with the participation of brother Roger during a David And Jonathan session for EMI in London.

Sources, further reading:
1. “Paul [Darrin] wins an audition”,
Evening Post (Bristol), 5 February 1964, p.4
2. “Cadillacs aim to become … The Beatle Crushers”:
Evening Post (Bristol) story about local bands auditioning in London, including Paul Darrin and The Diplomats, 13 February 1964, p.8.
No strings could be Keith’s theme, Evening Post (Bristol), 25 June 1966, p.4

Bristol 1964: Paul Darrin (Keith Cook aka Jason Dene, vocals) with The Diplomats (not in photo order): Dave Gillis (piano), Landon Lloyd, Bob Smith, Martin Moffatt (guitars), Paul Marshall (drums), from Evening Post story here.

Peter James - Opportunity (1966)

(Warren Joyner - Robert Harshman [Bobby Hart] - John Marascalco)

Single on Reprise. The biography of the artist is a mystery. That vacuum has been filled a little by speculation that Peter James may have been P.J. Proby. There are slim circumstantial clues in its favour, and the voices do have their similarities, but I don’t buy it.

Peter James released three singles on Reprise 1965-66, notably the Jackie DeShannon song You Won’t Forget Me [YouTube]. There were also Peter James singles on Silver (1960; see footnote), Liberty (1963) and Warner Bros (1966) which I haven’t researched.

Further reading: In a blogpost “The Mystery of Peter James – No He Is Not P.J. Proby”, late-1950s rocker Wes Bryan is quoted: Peter James is a real person. He is not P.J. Proby or someone else, recording under a fake name. I met him working with Jerry Capehart at American Music ...

Walter Jackson - Opportunity (1963)

(Warren Joyner - Robert Harshman [Bobby Hart] - John Marascalco)
Original version

Single on Columbia by highly regarded but lesser known soul singer (1938-1983).

At Chicago soul label Okeh in the late 60s Walter Jackson was often produced by soul maestro Carl Davis (who talent-spotted him in a Chicago piano bar) as well as by Curtis Mayfield and, later, Ted Cooper.

On Billboard’s R&B charts Jackson had 10 singles in the Top 40 from 1964 to 1977, including Feelings (1976 #9) and It’s An Uphill Climb To The Bottom (1966 #11), but on the pop charts his singles usually stalled in the 80s or 90s, or underbubbled. As Richie Unterberger puts it, Despite the obvious pop crossover potential of Jackson’s recordings, he remained obscure to white listeners.

Walter Jackson was a singer’s singer. If a poll had been conducted among his R&B contemporaries, Jackson would have scored high in the Best Male Vocalist catalog.

Andrew Hamilton at All Music

The Writers

• The writing credits of John Marascalco (b.1931) include the Little Richard hits Good Golly Miss Molly and Rip It Up (both with Robert ‘Bumps’ Blackwell), and Fats Domino’s hit Be My Guest (with Domino and Tommy Boyce).

Marascalco wrote the Australian hits Don’t You Know (Pretty Baby) (Johnny O’Keefe 1960) and Starlight Starbright (Lonnie Lee 1960). He wrote Booka Hyland’s Sweet Thing (1960) and co-wrote his We’ve Got Something Going (1961).

Warren Joyner sang tenor or bass in several vocal groups. His association with John Marascalco came from his membership of The Electras when they were produced by Marascalco at Infinity Records 1961-62.

Also in the The Electras was Billy Storm who had been in The Valiants in 1957 when Marascalco produced them on the original version of Good Golly Miss Molly. Storm also recorded Joyner’s first recorded co-composition, The Way To My Heart (1958).

Apart from Opportunity, Joyner is credited with Marascalco on several songs including Just a Friend (Johnnie Tino, 1960), You Lied (The Electras, 1961), Nothing But a Playboy (Lee Diamond, 1962), and Can’t You See It in My Eyes (The Electras, 1964).

Robert Harshman (b.1939) was better known as Bobby Hart, one half of late-1960s singing and writing duo Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart who had some success with their own records, including I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight (1968, #8 USA) and Alice Long (You’re Still My Favorite Girlfriend) (1968, #27 USA), and they worked on The Monkees’ TV series, notably as the composers of (Theme From) The Monkees and Last Train To Clarksville.

See also Baby Let Your Hair Down (1965), a Bobby Hart record and co-composition covered in Australia by Graham Chapman.

Further reading1. Walter Jackson Biography by Richie Unterberger at All Music. 2. Review of Walter Jackson’s Greatest Hits by Andrew Hamilton at All Music. 3. John Marascalco Biography by Joslyn Layne at All Music. 4. John Marascalco by Dik de Heer, archived from Shakin’ Stacks. 5. Boyce & Hart Artist Biography by Richie Unterberger at All Music. 6. Boyce & Hart official website. 7. Boyce & Hart Discography at Wikipedia.

Jewel & Eddie - Opportunity (1960)

(Eddie Daniels - Jewel Akens)
Red herring

Same title but not the same song as ‘Opportunity’ by Mr Lee Grant.

Single on Silver by Eddie Daniels and Jewel Akens, associates of Eddie Cochran and his manager-advisor-collaborator Jerry Capehart. See Wee Bit More Of Your Lovin’, a product of the same operation. Akens had a solo hit in ’66 with The Birds And The Bees.

  Opportunities for Red Herrings. There are numerous different songs entitled Opportunity (try this search at 45cat.com). Here are some just from the 60s:

Freddy CannonOpportunity (H. Hunter)
USA 1961
Single on Top Rank, B-side of Buzz Buzz A-Diddle It.
Chris ConnorOpportunity (Brown)
USA 1962
Single on Atlantic.
The SoulettesOpportunity (C. Dodd)
UK 1965
Single on Ska Beat.
The PersuasionsOpportunity (Ray Evans, Randall Stewart)
UK 1966
Single on Columbia, B-side of La, La, La, La, La.
The MandalaOpportunity (Don Troiano)
Canada 1967
Single on KR
The JewelsOpportunity (Ray Evans, Randall Stewart)
USA 1964
Single on Dimension by female vocal group; same song as by The Persuasions [UK]