Bobbi Kelly Ercoline, the blanketed woman who was featured with her then-boyfriend and later husband on the cover of Woodstock’s 1970 soundtrack album, died Saturday.
Nick Ercoline, her husband of 54 years, confirmed her death on Facebook. “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 wrote. Ercoline 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.” A specific cause of death or age was not disclosed, her husband shared that she was surrounded by family.
Bobbi and Nick Ercoline were both 20 and had been dating only a few months when they heared about a festival on the radio in 1969. The concert was happening in Bethel, about an hour from where they lived in Middletown, N.Y., and they had heard stories of traffic jams and crowds on every radio. The next day, their friend Jim “Corky” Corcoran borrowed his mother’s station wagon, and they filled it with beer and wine before taking off on Route 17. Along the way, as traffic was at a standstill, people had abandoned their belongings. That’s when they found the blanket that would appear on the iconic album cover.
“I vividly recall the atmosphere: the sky was orangey pink from the lights, and it was misty,” Bobbi wrote in a 2015 article for the Guardian. “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.”
When the the album, 1970’s Woodstock: Music From the Original Soundtrack and More, came out several years later, they recognized the yellow butterfly staff on the cover.
“The five of us gathered in Corky’s apartment to listen to it. Suddenly he recognised 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,” recalled Bobbi. “But then he said: ‘Whoa! That’s you and Nick.’”
When remembering the significance of that moment, Bobbi told the publication that Corky, who is shown lying on the ground next to the couple, had just returned from Vietnam. “To me there’s something particularly symbolic about that: a festival dedicated to peace with a Vietnam marine on the cover of its album,” said Bobbi. She 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.”