British artist updates Beatles' Sgt Pepper cover featuring 2017's dead celebrities

British artist updates Beatles' Sgt Pepper cover featuring 2017's dead celebrities
By Emma Beswick
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The artist wants to draw attention to issues including climate change, gun violence and 'world leaders threatening nuclear annihilation during their morning bowel movement'


Artist Chris Barker revisited the Beatles’ iconic album cover for “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club” to pay tribute to public figures that died in 2017.

The original record cover featured the likes of actors, musicians, writers and footballers, including Mae West, Bob Dylan and Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, chosen by the Beatles for their influence on pop culture.

This year, Barker’s hommage includes Playboy founder Hugh Heffner, TV presenter Bruce Forsyth and musicians Chester Bennington, Fats Domino and Chuck Berry.

Seems as good a time as any to post this.

— christhebarker (@christhebarker) November 6, 2017

Where did Chris’ inspiration come from?

The artist started his yearly roundup in 2016 – a particularly poignant year of celebrity deaths after losing Bowie, Prince, George Michael and Carrie Fisher – in what Barker told Euronews: “felt like the last exodus of genius from the planet.”

I’m really sorry everyone. This is so sad. I feel awful. #RIPCarrieFisher#sgtpepper2016 May the force be with 2017.

— christhebarker (@christhebarker) December 27, 2016

Such was the popularity when he tweeted the image, it garnered millions of retweets and media attention, that Chris said he “wouldn’t have been surprised to see someone getting it as a tattoo”.

He hadn’t planned to create another montage, as he didn’t feel the story was the same as the year before: “I didn’t want me doing a dead celebrity montage to become a sign that the end of the year was approaching, like the Coca-Cola trucks or something,” he said.

However, fans started sending suggestions of who to include in a new collage and Chris decided to use the online popularity his 2016 creation had granted him to draw attention to issues that he felt were important in 2017.

Chris hoped to draw attention to topics including climate change, hate crime, gun violence and “world leaders threatening nuclear annihilation during their morning bowel movement,” in his 2017 art.

Why include the Brexit again?

The artist said his choice to include “Brexit” spelt out in flowers was “a (quite divisive) focal point last year” and he wanted to include it again to “show how, a year on, nothing has changed”.

“It’s still lingering on but the chances of it being a success are slowly floating away, like rubbish on flood water,” he added.

Why include fictional characters?

Miffy and Paddington both appear in the image because the original authors both passed away this year and, according to Chris, the characters are more recognisable than the authors themselves.

Similarly, Wallace and Gromit made an appearance, as Peter Sallis (who is also pictured in the montage in the form of his character in long-running British series Last of the Summer Wine) was also the voice of Wallace.

Did Chris leave anyone out?

“I left out Moors murderer Ian Brady. I didn’t feel the need to promote the image of someone purely known for killing children,” said the artist.

“It’s better to remember people famous for good things rather than bad whenever possible.”


Chris also regrets leaving out American singer Charles Bradley by mistake which he describes as “a terrible shame”.

Will anyone else be added before the end of the year?

Since Chris tweeted the mock album cover at the start of November, a number of other well-known faces have left us including Higgins from the television show Magnum, P.I., but he said he won’t update it as he did last year:

“Last year was pretty exceptional as I’ve mentioned, and it did end up feeling like a full-time job by the end of December, and I already have a full-time job!”

Although, fans of the montage have added faces and posted them to their Instagram accounts.

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