A Poignant 'Sgt. Pepper'-Style Tribute To The Stars We've Lost in 2016

"This year really has got a wicked sense of humor."

The Beatles’ iconic “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album cover has inspired a tribute to all of the celebrities who died in 2016.

George Michael, Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Robert Vaughn, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Leonard Cohen were among the dozens of famous faces featured in Chris Barker’s poignant creation. There are also references to major world events, such as Donald Trump’s presidential election win and Britain’s Brexit vote to leave the European Union:

Inspired by the tumultuous year, the British artist wrote on his Tumblr that “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.”

Barker posted the first version of the image online in November. But he felt compelled to update it every time a new star died, which turned his labor of love into something akin to “a full-time job,” he said. Barker even outsourced the task to a friend when he was without his laptop over the holidays.

“This year really has got a wicked sense of humor,” Barker told The Huffington Post on Tuesday. “Just when you think it can’t shock you any more it manages to pull something else out of the bag. I dread to think what’s next frankly but for those who are asking what I have planned for next year? I don’t know. Not this, that’s for sure.”

Despite hundreds of thousands of people sharing Barker’s images, which he admitted erroneously featured Motorhead frontman Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister (who died near the end of 2015), he hasn’t actually made a dime from his work. 

“As a photographer pointed out to me, it would kind of be unethical to profit from something that makes use of so many peoples’ intellectual property so that’s why I am asking people to donate to charity,” Barker told HuffPost.

He suggested the memorial fund for Jo Cox, the British member of parliament who was assassinated by a man with white-supremacist ties before the Brexit vote. But “any charity will do,” Barker added, “apart from the Trump Foundation. That’s not even a charity in my opinion.”

Correction: This article previously misspelled Robert Vaughn’s name. 



Notable People We've Lost In 2016