"Uri Lotan, an ex-DJ for the Army Radio Station, had a midnight show once a week for years-- the Dead, Zappa, Lennon, etc. He also did a New Year's Dead Marathon for a couple of years, too. He followed that up with shows on 2 commercial stations that he sort of had to sneak Dead songs on to. He has organized about 5 Dead video nites at the Tel Aviv Cinemateque since summer '95 with a full house almost every time."
Besides his radio work, he was a journalist and translator (The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test). Unfortunately, Uri died as the result of an accident in his home a couple of years ago. We miss him!
See below for more on Deadheads in Israel.
In a shop in Jerusalem, I was taught about the Dead
by jerry stevenson
I was one of those late bloomers in finding my love for the famous San Francisco rock band the Grateful Dead.
It was 1980, and I was 38. I had opened my store, Mr. T, a couple years earlier in Jerusalem. I suppose I liked mainstream rock ‘n’ roll, but I loved classical music more. Mozart, Schubert, and Handel filled my musical day.
Led Zeppelin and Springsteen were there too, but a Verdi opera was always on the tape machine in the store.
Then along came Stu.
Stu literally came in the store off the Ben Yehuda mall. It was just before Passover. We were playing the Dead, by chance, on our tape player. He heard it and came in. When I told him I knew nothing about the 1960s group, he spent the next 27 years of our lives filling me in.
Stu adored and worshipped the Grateful Dead. He was a classic Deadhead: he traveled with them during their early years. He married his wife on the road, had a few kids along the way and followed Jerry Garcia everywhere.
In the 1930s or ’40s, Stu would have been considered a hobo, a bum or a drunk. Today, he was just a homeless alcoholic living on the fringes of society.
He divorced his wife and left his kids behind. He made his way to Israel and brought hundreds of bootleg Grateful Dead concerts with him. In the many years I was his friend, he lived in doorways on Jaffa Street, shacks in Rachavia, rooftops near the Western Wall, bus benches on King George Street, Independence Park, abandoned buildings near the Old Jerusalem bus station and a few psychiatric hospitals.
He drank whatever kind of booze was around, from cheap wine to revolting vodka.
Over the years, I tried to help him numerous times. It was always useless. He never listened to my advice, so instead I gave him material items like sleeping bags, blankets, jackets, money and radios. Everything was stolen from him, including his most precious possession, the bootleg tapes he had brought from America.
At Mr. T, we wound up listening to the Dead every 45 minutes. It was Stu’s influence. He became the store’s official greeter. He was there when the celebrities came in, and he was there when the down-and-out wandered in.
Stu was 10 years younger than me, but he looked 30 years older. As the years went by, he lost most of his teeth. He was always dirty and smelled of booze and urine. His hair was a tangled, matted disaster. I’d give him a shirt and he would wear it for three weeks straight, never taking it off until I gave him a new one.
Most of my employees couldn’t stand being near the guy. Tourist families walked in, took one look at him and walked out. But many others came in just to talk to him and be entertained. This was definitely a novel marketing concept.
Stu’s presence made the Mr. T store in downtown Jerusalem the Grateful Dead mecca of the Middle East. Deadheads from all over the world would gather, and Stu was there to greet them. This lasted nearly 30 years.
Stu died in his sleep, two weeks before I closed Mr. T. He was 55 and his liver was like a sieve. As I write this, I’m listening to the Dead. And, yes, it has been a long strange trip. And yes, I will miss Stu. He certainly made going to work and opening the store every day a fun adventure.
Thank you, Stu, for giving me a “real good time.”
Jerry Stevenson is a former Bay Area resident and former owner of the Mr. T store in Jerusalem, which recently closed.
...to see fans from the Middle East!
I know that there are quite a few dead heads in Israel, scattered all around.
Some of them are americans that moved here, or people that lived in the states for a while, and some are the kids of those people. But there are also many of us that discovered the dead one bright morning on our endless quest for good music. - At least that was the case for me.
I was 15 when Jerry died, and discovered the magic only a few years later during my military service, so unfortunately I never had the chance to see the guys live.
It would be interesting to see people from neighboring countries in here. I have no doubt that had everybody in the middle east listened to the dead, it would've been a lot more peaceful here...
And it's too bad that the dead never came to Israel, especially since they were already so close when they came to Egypt.
rawsh-mett (that's dead-head in hebrew).
I am not too sure if there would be too many Heads in the Middle East. Maybe in Dubai but for the rest of the Middle East I would not think so as it too conservative. If there are please let me know and prove me wrong. I was in Saudi Arabia (Jedi) and I was scared shitless and as soon as the flight landed they made the announcement to discard of all magazines and papers with the pictures of women without veils etc. The military guys came on the plan and I was the only one pretty much not wearing a Thobe! I had my U.S. passport tucked in my shoe and when I was in customs I took it out of my shoe and after the customs agent stamped it I put it back in my shoe. I have been to many places but this is a place that I felt very uncomfortable in. Jedi is very close to Mecca so you have some hardcore fanatics in the area. I look forward to my trip to Algeria in the fall!!! Man why do i do this to myself. It is too bad that secularism has not been embraced more in Middle Eastern countries as I hear there are many very nice places to visit. Anyway I was listening to the radio the other day in Shanghai and they played an American Rap song called "my hump" or something like that and I thought that this is the American Culture that probably scares the hell out of people and this is the culture that they relate to American culture. Wow I thought as I rebelled and fought this type of garbage most of my life. Baggy pants acting like you’re from the hood and the horrible slang. Maybe this is the American culture they are not accepting and I don’t blame them.