British artist Chris Barker has paid tribute once again to a great bunch of pop cultural, sporting and political icons who have passed away in 2020, using The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album art as his template.
Among the icons in the montage are film veterans Sean Connery (007), Kirk Douglas (Spartacus) and Olivia de Havilland (Gone With The Wind) and Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther); TV favourites Diana Rigg (The Avengers) and Terry Jones (Monty Python); and musicians Little Richard, Kenny Rogers, Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac), Eddie Van Halen, and Florian Schneider (Kraftwerk).
Other subjects ranged from the obscure (ie: rappers we’ve never heard of) to the ultra-conceptual, with ‘Donald Trump’s Presidency’ listed as 106 out of the 108 names.
This year’s artwork is particularly stand-out as each individual is donning a Covid-protective face mask, except for one subject – Dave Prowse, who played Darth Vadar in the Star Wars franchise and came with his own form of face protection.
Due to having to add the masks, the artist began creating his work earlier than usual this year – in September as opposed to November.
Barker toyed with the idea of having his subjects spread apart “in keeping with social distancing” but then that would have made the final image way too big and limited in capacity.
He also had the problem of having to add a couple of subjects after officially putting his airbrush down. Soccer star Diego Maradona died just two days after Barker thought he had completed his work, and so was cut and pasted in up the back.
Also up the back is the kooky inclusion of the backdrop used in the recent press conference by Trump’s administration in the parking lot of the Four Seasons Total Landscaping store – what Barker refers to as “the funniest” moment of the year.
More serious political references are visible with a portrait of George Floyd positioned in the front row. Floyd was the victim who was murdered at the hands and knees of Mississippi policemen, sparking a revision of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Barker also wanted to include a burning background to remember the bushfires that ravaged Australia earlier in the year but thought the reference might be too obscure for some international viewers.
And there is an error in this year’s montage: the inclusion of Kriss Kross singer Chris Kelly who actually had passed away in 2013, not 2020.
“I probably saw him on an [RIP] list and just added it,” says Chris, admitting to the error.
For the full list of who’s who in this year’s Sgt. Pepper obituary by Chris Barker, see the key chart, below.