Artist Updates ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ Artwork to Include Celebrities Who’ve Recently Died
Celebrities pass away every year, but for some of us, 2016 has felt particularly lethal — an impression reinforced by British artist Chris Barker, who's used the Beatles' classic Sgt. Pepper's album cover as a canvas for rounding up the many famous faces who've said farewell this year.
As Barker explains in a Tumblr post, he was inspired to create the image on Nov. 8 while watching the U.S. election results come in. "What a year, I was thinking," writes Barker. "David Bowie, Brexit and now this. A lot of people speculate that Bowie was actually the glue that was holding the universe together. It’s certainly been a bit different since he tragically passed away. So I thought that since I was going to be up for hours anyway, and Mrs Chris and the kids were fast asleep, I might do a montage that summed up how weird a year it’s been."
Without initially intending to use the Pepper's cover as a backdrop — something he acknowledges is "a bit of a designer cliché" — Barker realized "people respond to it instinctively" and spent a few hours putting the image together, adding in dozens of recently deceased celebrities — including Prince, George Martin, Glenn Frey, and Lemmy (who he later realized died in 2015) — before posting it to social media and thinking "little more of it"...until it went viral.
Of course, as we're all painfully aware, a number of celebrities have passed away since Nov. 8, including Leonard Cohen and Greg Lake, and Barker's gone back to update the image a number of times — all while fielding interview requests from a growing list of publications and acquiring his own degree of fame for, as he puts it, being "that dead celebrity photoshopper guy."
Check out Barker's 2016 Sgt. Pepper's image above, and keep your fingers crossed that he's made the last of his updates. If the fates are less kind, follow his Twitter feed for changes. You can also look into more of Barker's work here.
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