Pop pickers thought Pryme played for the other team where drugs were concerned. But there he was, having to explain away the best song of his career ‘Gracious Lady (Alice Dee)’ which its writer, House of Nimrod’s Bryce Petersen admitted was about LSD.
Radio I had recently banned it, station managing director Mrs B.M.L Thomas huffing, “To me LSD, opium dens and suchlike are out.”
When Pryme got on the phone to Petersen asking what to do, they were going to question him about LSD, Petersen replied, “Say you tried it in Australia so they can’t arrest you.”
Lew Pryme told the NZ Herald that he had tried LSD out of curiosity while in Australia earlier that year. A former Taranaki Herald and Truth reporter such as Pryme would also know there would be a lot of publicity and “all publicity was good” – especially for a star who’d been concentrating on television and cabaret work.
The pity was that it was Pryme's best cut. Petersen’s simple image of walking with his wife in the park tripping was enhanced by the House of Nimrod’s production team – arranger Jimmie Sloggett and engineer Bruce Barton – who introduced wind and other sound effects helping to turn it into a minor league pop classic.
Waitara born, Pryme was a seasoned pop professional, by then having cut his teeth with Taranaki’s The Nitelites and on Johnny Cooper package tours before moving to Auckland in 1963. He featured in early pop movie Don’t Let It Get You (1966) and released a string of ballads and old rockers as singles on Octagon, where he was briefly groomed as a teen star before that label closed in 1966. One release, 'A Star Is Born' from late 1966, followed for Benny Levin's Impact label. Then, under the wing of Phil Warren, he recorded briefly for Festival Records, including the notorious ‘Gracious Lady (Alice Dee)’, and Pye Records (a single each in 1969 and 1970s, which completed Pryme's recording career).
In 1965 Lew Pryme ran for the Auckland City Council, missing out by a mere 57 votes.
Moving into management and public relations at the end of the 1960s, Pryme purchased Auckland's leading booking and management agency Fullers from Phil Warren in July 1972. There, in 1973, he spotted a young soul singer, Mark Williams, the lead singer of a Dargaville band called Face. Encouraging him to leave the band, Pryme signed Williams to a solo management contract, and took him to Australia the following year. Pryme managed Williams until 1976.
He also managed Tina Cross and Rob Guest, guiding both to considerable success, before accepting a role as executive director of the Auckland Rugby Union in the early 1980s, introducing large showbiz styled shows to Eden Park in 1986, not without some controversy.
Pryme also co-hosted – with Tim Bickerstaff – a radio rugby show in the 1980s.
Lew Pryme died of AIDS in 1990 aged 46.
Lew Pryme had a deep love of rugby, playing fourth grade for University. His sexuality was largely unknown at the Auckland Rugby Union although he complained in the 1960s of repeated 'late tackles'.
Lew Pryme was co-owner of Backstage, one of Auckland's first gay nightclubs, in the basement of what is now the Q Theatre in Queen Street.