Famous Photographs: Woodstock

my own photograph from last year's Firefly Music Festival / kodak portra 400 film

my own photograph from last year’s Firefly Music Festival / kodak portra 400 film

Festival season is fast approaching! I am excited to say that I will be covering Firefly Music Festival again this year. This time around it will be for the Baltimore Sun’s photo blog, The Darkroom. Such a huge step up from my typical publications. I didn’t think I was ever going to get my press pass approval but I received it this past Tuesday, a nice email to wake up to.

Along with Firefly, there is Bonnaroo held in TN, Governor’s Ball held in NY and Cochella happening now in CA. I wish I could go to all of them! Unfortunately tickets are around $300 a pop, so I have to pick and choose. With all this festival hype, I have started researching past photos taken and came across something fascinating: the two blanket clad lovebirds on the Woodstock album cover are still together!

On August 15, 1969– forty years ago today– the Woodstock Music and Art Fair got underway for three days of live music performed on a 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York, a small rural town located about 40 miles southwest of the town of Woodstock, New York.

The event, which was expected to attract 50,000 people, swelled to over half a million concertgoers, who endured rain, mud, poor sanitation and limited food, to be part of a festival that is now regarded as one of the greatest moments in popular music history.  Among the many artists that performed at Woodstock were Joan Baez, Santana, The Grateful Dead, Credence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, Blood Sweat & Tears, and Crosby Stills, Nash & Young.

BURK UZZLE/COURTESY LAURENCE MILLER GALLERY, NEW YORK

Love in 1969: Nick and Bobbi Ercoline were immortalized on the cover of the original ‘Woodstock’ album in 1970, as well as on the movie poster.
// BURK UZZLE/COURTESY LAURENCE MILLER GALLERY, NEW YORK

The pair in present day

The pair in present day

What was their reaction? In an interview with the NY Daily News they say,

They discovered it while at a friend’s house listening to the album and passing around the gatefold jacket. First, Nick recognized the famous yellow butterfly staff in the left corner. “It belonged to this guy Herbie,” Nick says. “We latched on to him that day because he was having a very bad experience. He was tripping pretty heavily and he had lost his friends. After I saw that staff I said, ‘Hey that’s our blanket.’ Then I said, ‘Hey, that’s us.'”

Bobbi, then 20, wasn’t overly impressed. “Woodstock was over and done with at that time,” she says. “It didn’t seem like a big deal. The only thing was that then I had to tell my mother I had gone. She didn’t know. But by then, she didn’t mind.”

The pair had met only three months earlier, over Memorial Day weekend, at the bar where Nick worked. “This waiter brought this beautiful blond in one day and said, ‘This is my girlfriend; keep an eye on her,'” Nick explains. “Every night she stood in front of me and we got friendlier and friendlier. Then one weekend he made the mistake of leaving her home while he went to the shore with the guys and he never told her. That was the end of that. And the beginning of this.”

Despite all the time gone by, Nick says they still get recognized. “We were in Germany, and right when we walked into the hotel they knew who we were.”

As to why their photo was chosen, Nick has a theory. “It’s peaceful, which is what the event was about,” he says. “And it’s an honest representation of a generation. When we look at that photo I don’t see Bobbi and me. I see our generation.”

I loved this story. The power of a photograph is unlike any that I have ever seen. If you don’t know, I have an obsession with the old film photographs in Life Magazine’s archives. It blows my mind so often to find out that some of the best ones were never even published. I dug around and found these from Woodstock ’69.

Bill Eppridge—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Bill Eppridge—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Bill Eppridge—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Bill Eppridge—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

John Dominis—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

John Dominis—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

John Dominis—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

John Dominis—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

John Dominis—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

Bill Eppridge—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Bill Eppridge—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Bill Eppridge—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Photo courtesy of LIFE

Photo courtesy of LIFE

Photo courtesy of LIFE

Photo courtesy of LIFE

Photo courtesy of LIFE

Photo courtesy of LIFE

Photo courtesy of LIFE

Photo courtesy of LIFE

I loved these and I hope I can emulate them in some way with my Canon AE-1 and film, a pretty similar setup to what was probably used on these photographs.

This month has been so busy with work and school. I’m currently working on my capstone class for my journalism major. A capstone class is basically a class full of projects that force you to utilize everything you have learned in the major. It’s fun but intense. Along with that I have literary journalism which requires a lot of outside work. Expect a lot of interesting blog posts, I have a lot of time to distract myself on the internet 😉

4 thoughts on “Famous Photographs: Woodstock

  1. What amazing photos…..Your Mom was 2 years old then! I remember all the write-ups about it…….those were the days! I’m sure your photos of the FireFly Concert will be just as good …if not better! Thank you again for bringing back memories! Wonderful article!

  2. I really enjoyed these. I was 12 and have always wished I had been there like those boys at the bus. what a blast that must have been. I can’t wait for your Firefly shots The ones from last year reminded me of the 60s and Woodstock

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