Woman who featured in iconic Woodstock album cover embracing her boyfriend has died
The woman who featured in the iconic Woodstock album cover wrapped in a blanket embracing her boyfriend as 20-year-old sweethearts during the 1969 festival has died.
Bobbi Kelly Ercoline died over the weekend following a lengthy illness, according to her husband of 54 years, Nick Ercoline, who had been dating her for only a few months when the photo was taken.
The exact cause of death has not been revealed, but Nick wrote that his wife was surrounded by family when she died.
Her age has also not been disclosed, but the couple were both 20 when they were snapped at the legendary festival, taking place over the weekend of August 15 to 18, 1969.
Nick posted on Facebook this weekend: ‘It’s with beyond great sadness that I tell my FB family and friends, that after 54 years of life together, of the death of my beautiful wife, Bobbi, last night surrounded by her family.
1970’s ‘Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More’ album cover
The image of Bobbi Kelly Ercoline and Nick Ercoline was featured in Nick’s Facebook post announcing her death.
‘She lived her life well, and left this world in a much better place. If you knew her, you loved her. She lived by her saying, ‘”Be kind”.’
He added: ‘She didn’t deserve this past year’s nightmare, but she isn’t suffering from the physical pain anymore and that brings some comfort to us.’
The 20-year-olds were photographed by Burke Uzzle of the Magnum photo agency in a shot that seems to have encapsulated the mood at the festival.
It shows Bobbi gazing toward the camera donning a pair of thick yellow sunglasses, draped in a pink and white blanket that Nick is wearing, on a hill dotted with revelers.
The photo became the cover of 1970’s ‘Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More’ – a triple vinyl LP in May, 1970 to accompany a concert film of the festival.
Bobbi and Nick had only been dating for a few months when they heard about the festival on the radio in 1969.
The Woodstock Music and Art Fair was taking place at Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York, around an hour from their Middletown, New York, home.
The next day, their friend borrowed his mother’s white 1965 Chevrolet Impala station wagon, and they filled it with alcohol before setting off on Route 17. They eventually ditched the vehicle around four or five miles from the festival grounds after a journey that was filled with traffic jams.
‘As we were walking in, I picked up the blanket because I thought we needed something to sit on,’ said Bobbi. ‘It was just discarded, so I scarfed it up and that’s where the pink blanket came from.’
View of a portion of the audience as they watch a performance at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, Bethel, New York, August 1969. The festival ran from August 15 to 18
People applauding at the Woodstock Music Festival, New York, US, 16th August 1969
People on their way to the Woodstock Music Festival, 1969
Bobbi wrote in a 2015 article for the Guardian: ‘I vividly recall the atmosphere: the sky was orangey pink from the lights, and it was misty.
‘I could hear the music and the announcements from a long way off. Around us were families, couples, people shouting, babies crying, yodelling, banjos, bongos. The air was damp and smelled of campfires and pot. I’d not seen anything like it before.
The couple also noted that the sound from the hillside was spectacular.
The festival would become an emblem of sixties counterculture, featuring performances by Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone and Janis Joplin, among others.
The couple met in 1969 while Nick was bartending at Dino’s Bar and Grill in Middletown, New York.
They started seeing each other in May of that year, just a few months prior to the August festival.
Nick and Bobbi got engaged on Christmas Eve 1970 and married on August 27, 1971, just after the second anniversary of Woodstock, at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Bullville, New York.
Nick and Bobbi Ercoline, the couple featured on the Woodstock album cover, pose together, at the site where the photo was taken 50 years ago, in Bethel, New York, US, June 12, 2019
They went on to have two sons: Matthew, born in 1979, and Luke, who was born in 1981.
When the record came out several months later, they noticed the orange and yellow butterfly flag on the cover.
‘The five of us gathered in Corky’s apartment to listen to it. Suddenly he recognized the yellow butterfly staff on the left, which belonged to this guy Herbie we’d been looking after, as he was tripping pretty heavily and had lost his friends,’ Bobbi said. ‘But then he said: “Whoa! That’s you and Nick”.’
Bobbi added: ‘Woodstock has grown in significance with each passing year. It was such a special event: half a million people gathered in the name of peace, with no violence. It took place at the cusp of great change in America—the civil rights movement, the pill, Vietnam.’
On the 20th anniversary of Woodstock, in 1989, the couple were publicly identified as those featuring in the photo. They visited the site in 2019 to mark the festival’s 50-year anniversary.
Kelly said they want the Woodstock photo to inspire a message of peace, love and hope for future generations.
Nick said that when Bobbi was in the hospice, she made her husband promise her three things before she died, Nick said: ‘1. No more hospitals 2. Home is where she will stay 3. When her time comes for her passing, that I would hold her close.’
‘I was able to accomplish these 3 promises as my sweet Bobbi passed from this world while I held her close with our sons next to us,’ Nick wrote in an emotional follow-up post.