by Bob Hieronimus, Ph.D.
as seen on the Volkswagen website: www.kombi.vw.com.br/pt/historias in Portugese. The translation is below:
What follows below is the English translation of the interview with Dr. Bob Hieronimus in Portuguese on the Brazilian VW website:
I am an artist and I like to paint murals because they offer enough space for me to show my ideas. Here is a story where I was able to paint a sort of mural on a VW Kombi van that became famous.
Before the Woodstock festival I met the guitarist Bob Grimm, one of the leaders of a rock band that went through many different names starting with Taste and later Touch, and eventually Light, in reference to the Light meditations that we practiced. They were interested in learning about esoteric subjects such as meditation, reincarnation, Atlantis, UFOs, the paranormal, etc. Before their sets at various nightclubs and bars I taught them a simplified form of meditation and the importance of symbols.
Bob Grimm asked me to paint his 1963 Kombi van that he used to transport the band and their instruments to their gigs. A lot of rock bands liked the VW Kombi because they had a lot of room and were cheap. I had painted other cars in the past, mostly Volkswagen Beetles, but my favorite was painting on VW busses because of their flat sides allowing me to work with more detail to relate the story, that we are One People, on One Planet. The painting took several months because the drawings were full of details.
I had purchased tickets to go to Woodstock, and was very interested in reconnecting with some of the rock and rollers that I had met in New York City the year before when I was being courted to design album covers. I spent only 3-4 evenings with Jimi Hendrix back then, but we never discussed music. We always talked about symbols and consciousness, in particular America’s pyramid and eye in the triangle and mottoes found on the back of the one dollar bill. When I learned that 50,000 people were expected at Woodstock, I realized there would be no way I would have a personal meeting with Hendrix or any of the others that day. So I decided not to attend. When I later found out the total number of people who attended was closer to half a million, I was very happy I had not gone. You may think that I regret not going to the festival, but I don't. I still have my original tickets well preserved.
Bob Grimm later told me that when he and several other members of the band Light drove the painted van to Woodstock, at first they were blocked by a security guard from entering the grounds with their vehicle. Grimm told a little fib that the painted van was part of the art exhibit at the festival, and then he relented and let them through.
Many photographs of the Light bus were taken at Woodstock, and that gave it the new name of the Woodstock bus. The Associated Press, Life Magazine, and Rolling Stone Magazine were among the many that printed photos of our bus. They continued using these photos of the bus and its symbols whenever they did a future story about Woodstock because it promotes the philosophy of One People, One Planet.
For years, I didn’t pay much attention to any of the media surrounding Woodstock or the success of the car. No one in the media back then ever connected me with its painting or design. Over the years, people started sending me clippings, especially when Rolling Stone featured it. Those media stories continued to grow with each anniversary of Woodstock until some people in the media recognized my work and began contacting me for interviews. This attention was especially heavy during the 40th anniversary of Woodstock in 2009. Sunstar Diecast company in Macao China recreated the bus in a large diecast model measuring about 14 inches long released the same year. Interest in the bus was so long in the making that I was just surprised that its fame had been growing and growing not realizing that Woodstock was a symbol of America’s spiritual revolution and was better regarded as a symbol in the Middle East and South America and Europe than even in America. It makes me very happy that the Light bus, or the Woodstock bus, besides carrying my friend's band around safely, also carried a bit of those dreams and ideals wherever it went.
Admiring his new Woodstock Bus is Steve Boone, bass player for the Lovin’ Spoonful, members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, class of 2000.
The model is available online at www.Woodstockbus.com and includes a full color 16-page booklet on the history and symbolic interpretation of the bus.