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The story behind the Woodstock couple

A morning hug, captured by a roaming photographer, came to illustrate not only the album cover for the Woodstock soundtrack but an entire event.
 Publicity photo for the Woodstock soundtrack. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Publicity photo for the Woodstock soundtrack. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

By Paul Kennedy

As Sunday morning broke, Nick and Bobbi Ercoline stood wrapped in a dirty quilt, embracing the new day at Max Yasgur’s farm. Little did they realize theirs was an embrace that would last forever on the cover of the Woodstock album.

The couple had been dating for only a few months when they decided to ignore official warnings to stay away and to make the short drive over to Bethel. “When you’re 20 years old and someone tells you not to do something, you’re going to do it,” Nick says today.

Photographer Burk Uzzle, strolling the festival grounds, came upon the snuggling pair, snapped a few pictures and moved on. After the festival, Bobbi and Nick returned to the routine of their world: he was a bartender/college student and she worked at a bank. “We didn’t know the picture had been taken until the album came out,” Bobbi says.

Uzzle’s photo of the couple was used in a New York magazine pictorial and later selected for the cover of the Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More, the best-selling, three-record album released May 1970. Quite by accident, the image of Nick and Bobbi came to define a quasi-mystical moment in time.

 Bobby and Nick Ercoline in recent times.

Bobby and Nick Ercoline in recent times.

Of course, time keeps moving down the road, and so did the Pine Bush, New York, couple. Nick and Bobbi fell in love and married in August 1971. He became a union carpenter and she became a school nurse. Soon they had children, two boys. Their life was fairly normal, hardly symbolic of the counterculture.

“It was exciting to see the album, but it wasn’t a big deal – Woodstock was over,” Bobbi said. “It wasn’t until the 20th anniversary in 1989 that our story came out. Life magazine put an ad in our local paper looking for people who were there to come forward. I filled in the coupon and mailed it back, and a photographer arrived the following day.”

The Life story went viral. Seemingly overnight, some twenty years later, The Woodstock Couple had names, faces and a wonderful story to share. And share they do. The couple has traveled overseas and been on Oprah; they Skype with schoolchildren from around the country and still receive items in the mail to be autographed several times a month. And of course, they return to where it all took root – Woodstock.

“This has given us so many wonderful memories and opportunities,” Bobbi says. “The wonderfulness of it all is that we still love each other.”

This article and its images ran as an excerpt from Michael Greenblatt's 50th Anniversary Woodstock book Back to Yasgur's Farm.

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