Mr. Lee Grant

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Mr Lee Grant
Birth name Bogdan Kominowski
Born (1945-04-22) 22 April 1945 (age 70)
Origin Polish
Genres Pop
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1964–1975

Bogdan Kominowski (born 22 April 1945), is a New Zealand pop star. As well as his birth name he is also known by the stage name Mr. Lee Grant. He has had a successful singing and acting career – starring in stage shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Elvis - The Musical, TV shows and the James Bond movie "A View to a Kill".

Early life[edit]

He was born in a Nazi concentration camp just outside Düsseldorf to Polish parents. His father was killed, but he and his mother survived and emigrated to New Zealand in 1949, settling in Palmerston North.

He left school in 1963 and enrolled at Palmerston North Teachers College. His first interest in music came when he joined a local band called the Cyclones.

A friend knew a DJ called Keith Richardson, who ran youth dances in the Hawkes Bay area, and he managed to get him some gigs there. Keith decided that Bogdan Kominowski was a bit of a handful. However, it was Sylvia Richardson, Keith's wife, who came up with a new name, Lee Grant (Ref: Never a Dull Moment by Keith Richardson – see p67 – this was an autobiography.) The Mr was added to avoid confusion with an Auckland actress Miss Lee Grant (there is also a US actress of that name).

Mr Lee Grant's first recording was "Doo-Doodle-Do-Doo"/"As Long As I Have You" on Viscount in 1965. To promote the record, he travelled to Auckland for an appearance on Teen Scene. It was while doing that show, he met reporter, Dianne Cadwallader. She decided to become his manager and groomed the 21-year-old as a presentable soloist. Dianne secured guest spots at Teenarama in Wellington and a recording contract with HMV. She had him dressed by a Wellington fashion mogul and he quickly became New Zealand's Mr. Mod. After two unsuccessful singles, Dianne managed to get him a spot on the hit New Zealand music show, C'Mon.

C'mon[edit]

Mr Lee Grant meets a fan in 1968

The producer, Kevin Moore, was impressed and contracted Mr. Lee Grant as resident vocalist on C'Mon. During 1966–67 he went on three brief tours around New Zealand as a support artist to the Sandy Edmonds, Roy Orbison, The Walker Brothers and The Yardbirds package. This gave him quite a high level of exposure by the time C'Mon kicked off in February 1967.

Towards the end of the first C'Mon series HMV released the single "Opportunity", which entered the National Charts at number 17. By the time Mr. Lee Grant had completed the Animals, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich tour five weeks later, "Opportunity" was at number one on the charts in May 1967.

His next single "Thanks To You" was released in September 1967 just prior to the "Golden Disc Spectacular". "Thanks To You" also made it to number one on the National Charts and collected the 1967 Loxene Golden Disc award. To complete a magnificent year, Mr. Lee Grant also picked up the NEBOA Award for "Entertainer of the Year"

A new single "Movin' Away" in December 1967 stalled at the number two position. Then with a failure for the next – "Ave Maria" – not even making the charts, he was rescued by the follow-up single "Why Or Where Or When", which had him back at number one in March 1968, just as Mr Lee Grant was preparing to leave for Britain.

London[edit]

On 3 March 1968, the biggest male star since Johnny Devlin flew out of Auckland bound for London. In his absence, he scored two more Top 10 hits in New Zealand. In June 1968 "Rivers Run Dry" reached number 5 and "Bless You" reached number 6 in August.

Being away from his adoring fans, his popularity soon plummeted, and his record sales came to a halt. He did release some singles in England, however, as Lee Grant, but none of them were successful.

Bogdan Kominowski again[edit]

Success as a pop star in England was never realised, so he turned to stage, TV and film under his birth name. He played roles in Jesus Christ Superstar, Elvis - The Musical, and TV shows such as the revival of Oh Boy and Brushstrokes.

In 1993 he appeared in the title role of the Australia/New Zealand production of Ken Hill's 1976 Phantom of the Opera musical (best known as being the inspiration for Andrew Lloyd Webber's better-known version.

With Frankie Stevens, he is one of two New Zealand singing stars to have appeared in a James Bond movie – he played the part of a Russian in "A View to a Kill".

In 2001 EMI released a CD called "The Very Best of Mr Lee Grant"

Singles[edit]

Song Title Highest NZ Chart Position Year
"Doo-Doodle-Do-Doo" 1965
"Mind How You Go" 1966
"Opportunity" No. 1 1967
"Thanks To You" No. 1 1967
"Movin' Away" No. 2 1967
"'Ave Maria" 1968
"Why or Where or When" No. 1 1968
"Rivers Run Dry" No. 5 1968
"Bless You" No. 6 1968
"A Little Love And Understanding" 1970
"What Am I Gonna Do" 1971
"Mechanical Man" 1972
"You Keep on Dancin'" 1972
"Come on Dance" 1974

Albums[edit]

"Mr. Lee Grant" (#1, 1967)

  • Havah Nagilah
  • You Can Have Her
  • The Real Thing
  • Some Kinda Magic
  • Coloured Lights
  • Opportunity
  • Yo Yo
  • Take My Hand
  • Love
  • The Coalman
  • Spicks and Specks
  • Thanks To You

"Mr. Lee in London" (#3, 1968)

"The Very Best of Mr. Lee Grant" (2001)

  • Opportunity
  • Tabatha Twitchet
  • Spicks and Specks
  • Thanks To You
  • To Make A Big Man Cry
  • Movin' Away
  • Maria
  • Why or Where Or When
  • Rivers Run Dry
  • You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
  • Bless You
  • Take My Hand
  • Some Kinda Magic
  • Do You Mind?
  • The Coalman
  • Big Man
  • Walkin' With My Angel
  • Tossin' and Turnin'
  • Havah Nagilah
  • Big Boots

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]