'It wasn’t them': Vancouver Island woman says she's in iconic photo
A Vancouver Island woman is disputing an American couple's claim they are the ones in an iconic photo from the music festival Woodstock, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this week.
Nearly half a million people crowded onto festival grounds in Upstate New York, and one of them was Jessie Kerr. She says she and a friend had hitchhiked to Montreal, where she met a man named John.
"He said, 'Hey, do you want to go to a music festival?'" Kerr recalls. "And I said, 'Sure, what's a music festival?'"
She says they hitchhiked there and found the gate was down so the entry was free. At one point, Kerr says, she was standing with John in the rain when they picked up someone’s blanket and wrapped it around themselves. Then came a photographer.
"I remember him taking our picture but I didn't think much about it," she told CTV News.
Years later she says the photo ended up on an album cover, prompting friends and her mom to recognize her.
"She was quite surprised," Kerr said. "She helped me make the dress from a bedspread."
For years, Kerr kept the secret.
"I was a teacher," she said. "I thought it might make people think I was some sort of drug addict."
Then she saw a magazine spread celebrating the ground-breaking festival’s twentieth anniversary, with an American couple claiming the pair in the picture was them -- something Kerr calls "shocking."
"That’s my dress, those are my glasses, my clothes, and my friend John," she said.
As evidence, Kerr points to a picture from around the same time that shows her in her prescription rose-coloured glasses.
The Americans, Nick and Bobbi Ercoline have been telling the story for years, saying the blanket is theirs, and a friend is lying in the background behind them. This week, they’re doing the rounds on media talking about their experience. Kerr remains convinced they’re wrong.
"I don't need someone to say, 'Hey Jess, we know it's you on the front of that album,' so much as I'd like them to say, 'It's not us,'" she said.
Kerr attended the festival after helping draft dodgers escape from the United States. She was opposed to the Vietnam war and says the spirit of the festival was about making change. She says she senses younger people today are taking up the same sort of activism around climate change.
As for the festival itself, she remembers it fondly.
"I had a good time," she said. "The festival was good. Like living in a disaster zone with a lot of nice people and good music."
What she still wonders about: what happened to John? She says he was very nice but lost touch in the years after. She wonders if perhaps he was drafted and never returned from the war they both opposed while attending music history.