The True Story of Woolhat
What follows is the post-monkees career of Woolhat as told in an interview to Headgear Monthly (a lifestyle magazine for hats and earmuffs) 🙂 :
Interviewer: Today were talking to Woolhat, formerly of the pop
group known as the Monkees. Woolhat, you were the first to leave the group,
what promted your departure?
WH: The main reason was creative differances. Although the record
company allowed the others to play their own instruments , I was
forced to stay in my rather limited role. In the end I was feeling just like
window dressing. I suppose that would have been OK except Davy got all the
Int.: I know that after you left the group you started a solo career
that looked like it was going to be quite successful. What stopped it?
WH: My first album sold quite well, better even than Mike’s Wichita
Train Whistle album (editor’s note: sorry cheap shot). Unfortunately when I
turned down the request to play at Woodstock nobody took me seriously again.
Eventually I got into drugs (laundry detergent) and became to hard to work
with in the studio. This led to my parting with my record company.
Int.: What did you do with yourself after that?
WH: I eventually went through rehab and tried to get my life
togethor again. I even tried to make a comeback in the mid 1970’s by
recording an album with the Monkeemobile. Unfortuanately our time, it
seemed, had passed.
Int.: Have you kept in touch with the rest of the band?
WH: It took me a long time to get over my pride and talk to Mike,
Micky, Davy and Peter. I felt hurt that I wasn’t asked along when the
Monkees recorded Pool It and their other comeback material but I had to
realize that they were also hurt by my early departure from the band. We
have made up since than and now I see all the guys on a regular basis.
Things are still a bit strained with Mike but you have to remember that
there was always a rivalry between us as to who made who’s image.
Int.: Do you have any projects planned for the near future?
WH: I was hoping that I could get involved with the upcoming
thirtieth aniversery celebrations by maybe touring or recording with the
guys. All of this is still up in the air while my agent work’s out details.
I do plan to do The Letterman Show sometime soon and I have a cameo in an
upcoming Candian film so my fans will have some chances to see me.
Int.: Thank you for coming by.
WH: My pleasure
Bruce A. Leach
Bruce, thank you for reprinting this interview for us. Wool Hat is
definitely one of the most fascinating, yet often ignored personalities
of the late sixties. I’ve been doing a little research on him myself
lately, and much of what I’ve learned is shocking, disturbing, and yet
somehow a reaffirmation of the underlying strength of the human…uh,
make that *hat*…spirit. Here is, as they say, the rest of the story,
as I have heard it from very reliable sources (including a short
telephone interview with Mr. Hat himself):
Mike and Woolie were friends and partners long before The Monkees,
but the stress of sudden fame put a strain on their relationship.
Woolie felt he should have equal billing; he got none. He was always
hurt that Mike didn’t fight harder on his behalf, but Mike was an
ambitious young man and not about to let a bundle of yarn get in the
way of his success.
The situation came to a head with the utterance of one simple
statement: “Tell the world we’re synthetic, because dammit, we are!”
Woolie was extremely proud of his 100% virgin wool heritage, and not
about to stand for being insulted like that in front of his fans.
The ensuing fight was witnessed by many….in a name-calling battle,
Woolie said Nesmith was a hot-headed fool with only half a brain;
Nesmith countered by telling Woolie he was a headache, a migraine, that
he had pulled the wool over his eyes for the last time…at that point,
Woolie leapt from Nesmith’s head in a fit of anger. Nesmith took a
swing at him, missing him by a fraction of an inch, but putting his
fist right through a plaster wall. “That could’ve been your face,
motherfucker!” Nesmith yelled at Woolie’s retreating form…..
Woolie left that day for Canada, never bothering to retrieve his
belongings from Nesmith’s guest house…..a mistake which would later
come back to haunt him. When the movie “Head” was released, there,
almost word for word, was a scene from Woolie’s unfinished screenplay
“Dandruff”…..the same screenplay he had left behind at Nesmith’s
house on that fateful day….
Woolie was helpless….he couldn’t afford a good lawyer (by that
time having spent all his Monkee earnings on laundry detergent), and
with no copyright, he knew he couldn’t win a case against Nesmith–it
would be one man’s word against a wool hat’s, and even in the late
sixties, hats were not yet considered equals….
So, he did nothing–he stayed in Canada, where a knitted cap could
get lost in a crowd. He got deeper and deeper into laundry detergent,
and even the harder stuff, like bleach, stain remover, even dry
cleaning fluid. He started hanging out in laundromats, taking a tumble
in the permanent press cycle with anything wearing a little lace and
some elastic. “Hey, hey, didja know, I used to be a Monkee?” he’d tell
saggy panties and yellowed bras. “Yeah, right–and I was Marilyn
Monroe! Just shut up and spin me, fuzzball!” she’d say. No one believed
him. After awhile it was okay. He didn’t believe himself anymore.
He wandered the streets, motheaten, his skin pilled and faded from
too much bleach, his once luxuriant pom-pom now only a few scraggly
strands. There can’t be a sadder sight than a down-and-out hat trying
to Monkee-walk by himself, mumbling the words to a half-forgotten theme
It was rumored (but never proven) that at his lowest point, Woolie
was involved in several convenience store robberies with his notorious
cousin, Blue Ski Cap (who, as we all know, went on to a life of much
more serious crime and is today accused of being an accessory in the
murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman). I prefer not to think of
Woolie as robber–yes, he was self destructive, and yes, he was a drug
addict, but he was basically a gentle soul and would never harm human
Gentle…..and tough. We’ll probably never know what exactly caused
Woolie to finally come to terms with his situation, but, as he reported
in his interview, in 1972 he got himself into rehab. And in ’74. And
’75. Finally, in a radical new treatment, he was weaned off the hard
stuff while using a mixture of Woolite and spring water, and has
remained clean to this day.
One thing Woolie was too modest to report in his interview is that
since the early eighties, he has devoted much of his time to helping
other celebrity headgear deal with the realities of life after fame.
Graduates of his program include Gilligan’s sailor hat, Bill Shatner’s
first rug, and Steve Martin’s arrow-through-the-head. All have gone on
to lead productive, fulfilling lives, thanks to Woolie….
What are the chances of Nesmith and Woolie reuniting for a tour?
According to Woolie, it’s all up to Nesmith. Personally, I think that
on those cold winter nights in the wilds of New Mexico, Nez misses his
warm, fuzzy friend more than he will admit. But these days Nesmith is
reportedly working with a new partner, Red Cap, so for now I would
guess that a tour is unlikely. But you never know….stranger things