Bobbi Kelly and Nick Ercoline were girlfriend and boyfriend, 20 years old. Bobbi lived in Pine Bush, N.Y., and worked at a bank. Nick lived in Middletown, N.Y., and worked two jobs while going to college.
|Nick and Bobbi Ercoline, the couple featured on the iconic Woodstock album cover, pose together at the site where the photo was taken 50 years ago, in Bethel, New York. (Burk Uzzle/Reuters/Dan Fastenberg)|
They had heard so much on the radio about an approaching festival called Woodstock that “we just had to go,” Bobbi recalled. They took back roads to Bethel, N.Y., parked their car when they couldn’t drive farther and walked the final two miles.
They stayed only one night. They never saw the stage because they were so far away. But at some point, and they have no idea when, a photographer took their picture hugging, draped in a quilt, on a muddy hillside.
The photo appeared on the cover of the Woodstock soundtrack. And Bobbi and Nick became part of the legend.
|This is the cover art for Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More. The photo was taken by Burk Uzzle at the Woodstock Festival held in Bethel, New York, on August 15-18, 1969.|
“Woodstock was a sign of the times,” said Bobbi, now Bobbi Ercoline. “So many things were churning around in our world at that time: civil rights, the Vietnam War, women’s rights. It was our generation.
“I know some people say Woodstock changed their life. But I don’t think it contributed to who I am or who Nick is. I think we became the people we would have become anyway.”
|Nick and Bobbi wedding photo, 1971. (Courtesy Nick and Bobbi Ercoline)|
Photographer Burk Uzzle has recalled walking around looking for a good shot and seeing the couple stand up and hug, kiss and smile at each other, before Bobbi leaned her head on Nick’s shoulder. The Ercolines themselves don’t remember anything about the photo being taken, but they remember the wooden staff with a plastic butterfly on it left by a Californian named Herbie who hung out with them briefly before leaving the staff, which is seen at the left-hand side the photo, behind with them.
Most of all, they tell people, they look at the image of themselves wrapped up together in a blanket as a symbol of Woodstock having been “hopeful” and “peaceful” and “filled with love and sharing.”
|Nick and Bobbi Ercoline, the couple on the cover of Atlantic Records’ original 1970 Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More. (Burk Uzzle)|
A year after the festival, their friend Jim Corcoran came to visit and showed them the Woodstock festival album cover. Nick and Bobbi recognized their photo and smiled at each other.
“That’s when we realized we had to tell my mom we’d been to Woodstock,” jokes Bobbi.
As Nick remembers, “The festival had not gone down well with the locals. The town of Sullivan had been left in a terrible state with trash everywhere and abandoned cars. The poor little town had spent thousands and thousands of dollars on cleaning up after the festival-goers. Farmers had had to throw away three or five days’ worth of milk because they couldn’t get their trucks through. So Woodstock was not viewed with enthusiasm in the area.”
|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, U.S., June 12, 2019. (Reuters/Dan Fastenberg)|
It was only on the festival’s 20th anniversary that Nick and Bobbi were publicly identified for Life Magazine’s special edition. Since then, they have become the standard-bearers for the original festival.
The Woodstock photo is an integral part of their love story. “I can’t imagine not having it part of our lives. It’s kind of who we are,” says Bobbi. “I see that photo of us at 20 years old every day. It bears witness to such a difficult time for our country. There was so much division – racial riots, assassinations, the Vietnam war – there was so much divide in our country. But music is the common denominator, we all came together in that spirit and that’s why it was so peaceful.”
It was a tortured time but also an authentic one. “It’s as though we forgot what happened half a century ago. You expect music to inspire the young generation that wants to protest because music can be very powerful. But what I hear nowadays is that music no longer talks about values but about money,” says Bobbi.
“It was a simpler time back then, when we were growing up. As we were walking along the road, with hundreds of thousands of other people trying to get to the concert, there was no one up front texting us back, sending us pictures or just letting us know what we were coming to. It was just the anticipation of … hundreds of thousands of people.”
Looking back with nostalgia, Bobbi and Nick hope that future generations will have just a little bit more Woodstock in their lives.
|Bobbi and Nick Ercoline in 2019. (Photo by Hudson Valley Magazine/Stefan Radtke)|
|Bobbi and Nick Ercoline are still as much in love as when their photo was taken at Woodstock 50 years ago. (Photo by Hudson Valley Magazine/Stefan Radtke)|