Stories

Flower Children 50 Years On: The Story Behind the Iconic Album Cover That Defined Woodstock

    At just 20 years old, Nick Ercoline and Bobbi Kelly were two young lovebirds living in New York, working and studying – nothing too out of the ordinary. However, a perfectly-timed image of them embracing at Woodstock festival in August of 1969 would come to symbolize the infamous summer of love. Not only that, their puppy love would blossom into a long and loving marriage, as they now celebrate 50 years of life together since that famed photograph.

    Image: Vintage News Daily

    “We just had to go,” Bobbi, a retired nurse, remembers, as the radio was abuzz about the upcoming festival you just had to attend. While the couple only stayed for a single night, they were photographed sharing an intimate embrace with each other among a sea of festival-goers, draped in a blanket, on the hillside.

    They Didn’t Even Know Their Picture Was Taken

    Surprisingly, the couple never even saw the stage as they were seated too far back. As well as that, they weren’t even aware their photo was being taken! That didn’t stop them being snapped by photographer Burk Uzzle who remembers seeing the picturesque twosome, and the moment made perfect when Bobbi rested her head on Nick’s shoulder.

    Image: CBS News

    This snapshot went on to be the cover photo for the Woodstock soundtrack, something the couple only realized a year after the festival when a friend, Jim Corcoran, brought over the album to show them. They shared a smile and, Bobbi jokingly recalls, “That’s when we realized we had to tell my mom we’d been to Woodstock.”

    Good Reasons for Not Wanting to Be Known

    The festival itself received a lot of criticism, not least of all because of the impact it had on locals. As Nick, now a retired carpenter, recalled, “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.”

    Image: Jackson Newspapers

    Nick continues, “Farmers 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.” It was only on the 20th anniversary of the festival that they were identified as the couple in the album, in a special that ran in Life Magazine. And it’s a fact that the couple has since embraced through the years.

    A Lasting Love That Would Have Happened Anyway

    Touchingly, the couple managed to sustain their ’69 love for half a century. Nick revealed, “It’s a moment that happens still this day when we first see each other in the morning, that’s the first thing we do. We give each other a hug and a kiss, and we stand there for about a minute or so, hanging on to each other.” Tenderly, they also repeat this routine before they go to sleep at night.

    Image: Jackson Newspapers

    The inspiring couple are not without words of advice: “This world needs more Woodstock. It needs peace and love and understanding and sharing and caring for your neighbor.” And despite their lessons from the summer of love, they don’t look upon it as a defining moment in their relationship, or lives, with Bobbi admitting, “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.”