The woman who appeared on Woodstock’s iconic album cover wrapped in a blanket hugging her boyfriend as a boyfriend of 20 years during the 1969 festival has died.
Bobbi Kelly Ercoline died over the weekend after a long 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 released, but Nick wrote that his wife was surrounded by family when she died.
Their age has also not been revealed, but the couple were in their 20s when they were photographed at the legendary festival, which took place on the weekend of August 15-18, 1969.
Nick posted on Facebook this weekend: ‘It is beyond great sadness that I say to my family and FB friends, that after 54 years of living together, the passing 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 appeared in a Facebook post announcing their deaths.
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 nice.”‘
He added: “She didn’t deserve the nightmare of last year, but she is no longer in physical pain and that brings us some comfort.”
The 20-year-olds were photographed by Burke Uzzle of the Magnum photo agency in a now-iconic shot of the festival.
It shows Bobbi looking towards the camera wearing a pair of thick yellow sunglasses wrapped in a pink and white blanket that Nick is wearing on a hill dotted with revelers.
The photo became the cover art for 1970’s ‘Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More’, a triple vinyl LP set in May 1970 to accompany a festival concert film.
Bobbi and Nick had only been dating a few months when they heard about the festival on the radio in 1969.
The Woodstock Music and Art Fair was held at Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York, about an hour from his home in Middletown, New York.
The next day, his friend borrowed his mother’s white 1965 Chevrolet Impala pickup truck and filled it with booze before setting off on Route 17. They eventually abandoned the vehicle about four or five miles from the festival grounds.
“As we were coming in, I picked up the blanket because I thought we needed something to sit on,” Bobbi said. “They just threw it away, so I wrapped it up and that’s where the pink blanket came from.”
View of a portion of the audience watching a performance at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, Bethel, New York, August 1969. The festival ran from August 15-18.
People applauding at the Woodstock Music Festival, New York, USA, August 16, 1969.
People on their way to the Woodstock Music Festival, 1969
“I vividly remember the atmosphere: the sky was pink-orange from the lights and it was hazy,” Bobbi wrote in a 2015 article for The Guardian. ‘I could hear the music and the announcements from far away. All around us were families, couples, people screaming, babies crying, yodelling, banjos, bongos. The air was humid and smelled of campfires and marijuana. I hadn’t seen anything like it before.
The couple noted that the sound from the hillside was spectacular.
The festival would become an emblem of 1960s counterculture, with performances by Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, and Janis Joplin, among others.
The couple met in 1969 while Nick was working as a bartender at Dino’s Bar and Grill in Middletown, New York.
They started dating in May of that year, just a few months before the festival in August.
Kelly and Ercoline became engaged on Christmas Eve 1970 and were 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, USA, on June 12, 2019.
They had two sons: Matthew, born in 1979, and Luke, 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 gather at Corky’s apartment to listen to him. All of a sudden, he recognized the yellow butterfly stick on the left, which belonged to this guy, Herbie, who we had been taking care of, as he was tripping a lot and had lost his friends,” Bobbi recalled. “But then he was like, ‘Wow! It’s you and Nick.'”
Bobbi said: ‘Woodstock has grown in importance with each passing year. It was such a special event: half a million people gathered in the name of peace, without violence. It took place on the cusp of a 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 the ones in the photo.
Kelly said they want their photo to inspire a message of peace, love and hope for future generations.
Bobbi had been in a hospice and made her husband promise her three things before he died, Nick said: ‘1. No more hospitals 2. Home is where she will stay 3. When the time comes for her to die, I will keep her close to her.’
“I was able to keep these 3 promises when my sweet Bobbi passed from this world while holding her with our children by our sides,” Nick wrote in an emotional follow-up post.
The couple visited the site in 2019 to mark the festival’s 50th anniversary.