Bobbi Kelly Ercoline, who, along with her boyfriend (and later husband) Nick became an iconic, if unwitting, symbol of the Woodstock generation when their bedraggled, blanketed and poignant image was featured on the music festival’s 1970 soundtrack album, died Saturday following a lengthy illness.
Her death was announced by husband of 54 years, Nick Ercoline. Neither a specific cause of death or age were disclosed, but Ercoline wrote that his wife was surrounded by family when she passed.
“She lived her life well, and left this world in a much better place,” Nick Ercoline wrote. “If you knew her, you loved her. She lived by her saying, ‘Be kind.’” He added, “She didn’t deserve this past years nightmare, but she isn’t suffering from the physical pain anymore and that brings some comfort to us.”
Nick Ercoline and Bobbi Kelly were both 20 years old and had been dating less than two months when they decided on a whim to drive the 40 miles from their New York State hometown to the Woodstock Music and Art Fair happening on Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York.
The festival would become a generational landmark, featuring performances by Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker, Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin and many others.
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At one point during the mud- and rain-soaked festival, photographer Burk Uzzle of the Magnum photo agency snapped a picture of a young couple embracing on a hill amidst concert-goers and sleeping bags. The couple was draped in a tattered-looking blanket, the man’s face turned away, the young woman, in sunglasses, seeming to stare directly at the camera.
It wasn’t until the following year with the release of the soundtrack album featuring the photograph on its soon-to-be famous cover that Ercoline and Kelly even realized their photo had been taken. Fifty years later, Nick Ercoline told AARP Magazine that he and Bobbi, who married in 1971, had first recognized an orange and yellow butterfly flag shown in the photo. “Then we saw the blanket,” he said, adding, “Oh my lord, that’s us!”
The couple came to embrace their place in the festival’s iconography, giving interviews on Woodstock anniversaries and traveling to the site in 2019 to mark the festival’s half-century mark.
Bobbi Ercoline worked as a school nurse who “always championed the kids,” Nick wrote on Facebook.
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