In another year filled with heartbreaking celebrity deaths, British artist Chris Barker has once again found a way to turn our grief into a celebration of life with his latest re-imagining of the Beatles legendarily overstuff cover art for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The image, created by the art director at a British publication in conjunction with CP Digital Retouching, follows up on 2017’s homage, which included everyone from Fats Domino and Chris Cornell to Glen Campbell, Jerry Lewis, Tom Petty and Don Rickles.
This year’s model is another joyful nod to the rich lives lived and vibrant spirits that we lost this year, including Aretha Franklin, Mac Miller, Avicii, opera legend Montserrat Caballé, country singer Roy Clark, Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin, Jackson family patriarch Joe Jackson, model and Lady Gaga collaborator Zombie Boy, Freightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison, former Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Ed King, The Cranberries‘ Dolores O’Riordan, The Fall’s Mark E. Smith, Burt Reynolds, chef Anthony Bourdain, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, Stan Lee, Superman star Margot Kidder, Verne Troyer, Sen. John McCain and Kate Spade, among many others.
“I know I said I’d never do it again but I got pestered to do it. My friend Carl is a retoucher and he got made redundant recently so had a bit of time on his hands so offered to do all the cutouts. That saved me a load of time!” Barker tells Billboard in an exclusive about this year’s project. “I love the inclusivity of this year. Aretha front and centre, civil rights figures peppered throughout (no pun intended). Until Stan Lee passed I didn’t think there was a strong enough central ‘fab four’ to make it work but Stan Lee was such an icon he absolutely pushed his way to the front row. If it’s a montage of heroes, then he is definitely a hero.”
Both Franklin and Reynolds are wearing “poppy-ish” outfits, which inspired Barker to include various other poppy motifs in a reference to the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI. “As with last year, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the devastating man-made effects of climate change on the environment. The clock is still ticking and certain leaders don’t appear to be doing anything about it,” he says. “As with both previous times I’ve done a montage, I’m sure there’s people I’ve missed out and I really don’t mean to offend anyone but I simply cannot include every single person from every walk of life from every country in the world. It would be massive.”
The full list of honorees, which, of course, includes many British figures who may or may not be familiar to American audiences (from top left): Montserrat Caballé, Roger Bannister, Roy Clark, Naomi Parker Fraley, Marty Balin, Josh Gavin, Barbara Harris, David Ogden Stiers, Reg E Cathey, Glynn Edwards, Liz Fraser, Dudley Sutton, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Babs Beverley, Roy Chavez, Joe Jackson, John Mahoney, R. Lee Ermey, Kofi Annan, Tessa Jowell, Rachael Bland, Cyrille Regis, Billy Graham, Frank Awruch, Zombie Boy, Sophie Gradon, Big Van Vader, Scott Hutchison, Alex Beckett, Ray Wilkins, Ray Wilson, Peter Firmin, Eric Bristow, Jim Brown, Peter Stringfellow, Geoffrey Hayes, Simon Shelton, Jacqueline Pearce, Zienia Merton, Dennis Edwards, Ed King, Alan Longmuir, Leslie Grantham, Mac Miller, Avicii, Emma Chambers, Ellie Soutter, Bill Maynard, Dale Winton, Barry Chuckle, Bella Emberg, Charles Aznavour, Dolores O’Riordan, Denis Norden, Ken Dodd, Aretha Franklin, Anthony Bourdain, Burt Reynolds, Mark E. Smith, Chas Hodges, Peter Wyngarde, Eunice Gayson, Fenella Fielding, Linda Brown, Debbie Lee Carrington, Jerry Maren, Stephen Hawking, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Carlos Ezquerra, Margot Kidder, Stfan Karl Stefansson, Verne Troyer, Richard Baker, Trevor Baylis, World War I, John McCain, Douglas Rain, Hubert de Givenchy, Kate Spade, Clive King, John Cuncliffe, William Goldman, Toblerone and Vichal Srivaddhanaprabha.
Check out the image below.
— christhebarker (@christhebarker) November 23, 2018