2021 ‘Sgt. Peppers’ Cover Tribute includes DMX, Sondheim, Watts – Billboard


It was December that British Beatles-inspired artist Chris Barker’s annual tribute to the celebrities we’ve lost this year barely took place. Since 2016, Barker has released his offbeat tribute to the stars of music, art, culture, politics and film / television who passed away in the calendar year, which in 2021 included the Rolling drummer. Stones Charlie Watts, celebrity designer Virgil Abloh, Monkees member Mike Nesmith, rappers DMX, Biz Markie and Shock G, as well as “Wall of Sound” producer Phil Spector and multi-talented actor / singer Cicely Tyson .

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“I said I wasn’t going to do it again. I’ve said it every year since I first did it in 2016, but I really really meant it this time, ”said Barker. Billboard in a note accompanying this year’s image, which, as usual, uses the Fab Four collage format Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Group blanket as a starting point. “The first year I did it, the raw trauma of the election of Donald Trump and the outcome of the Brexit referendum combined with the mass exodus of our youthful heroes (From Bowie to Gene Wilder to George Michael to Carrie Fisher) had me create a cathartic piece to sum up my emotions.

In 2017, he did it again after feeling the losses of Bond star Roger Moore and OG Batman Adam West, swearing every year since that he wasn’t going to do it again just for something to happen in November of. this year that made him start over. “I wasn’t going to do it in 2020, but it had been such a terrible year that I felt like the wrong year to stop,” he explains. “And a fitting tribute to the worst of all years. But that was it. As we entered a new era, with Biden legally elected and the virus seemingly on the verge of being defeated, I could draw a line under it. End the nightmare of the Trump presidency.

But, as usual, people kept asking him when this was going to happen and he realized that it was kind of catharsis for them too, so once again he reconsidered and took the plunge. He was still particularly keen to ensure that the “Front Four” represented the most iconic deaths of that year and with the exception of a Prince / David Bowie type name, he was once again unsure. to have what it took to make this year’s image.

He could have chosen many famous people in the UK – Girls Aloud’s Sarah Harding, Prince Phillip – but Barker got it into his head which makes for a significant loss. “The problem is, international interest in the annual tribute distorted the nature of what the play originally was. That was originally my personal vision for the year, ”he wrote, describing how the list should come from him and not by committee.

Once he thought about it, there were more than enough names for the list, from Watts and Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim to Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls, Les McKeown of the Bay City Rollers, the icon of the reggae dub Lee “Scratch” Perry, Gerry & Gerry Mardsen of the Pacemakers, Bunny Wailer of the Wailers, Dusty Hill of ZZ Top, Brian Travers and Terence “Astro” Wilson of UB40, Don Everly, Dennis Thomas of Kool & the Gang, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, Slipknot’s Joey Jordinson, the Moody Blues’ Graeme Edge and Prince Markie Dee of the Fat Boys, among many others (see image key below).

And while the converted cover typically falls in early November, the artist found himself covering, adding Nesmith at the last minute after the TV actor / country rock innovator / musician passed away over the weekend. “Just as I was about to publish the image, I learned of Mike Nesmith’s death. Suddenly the whole picture made sense, ”he says. “A Monkee and a Rolling Stone right in the middle. And Merseybeat star Gerry Marsden right next to them. I made everything feel perfectly fine and took away any worries I had about the room.

To be fair, Barker says he loved the Made-for-TV Monkees as a kid, studying their music more than the Beatles. “Although it annoyed me that they didn’t all have the exact same hairstyle,” he jokes. “I liked things to be neat and logical. I didn’t even like it when John Lennon wore a hat! If you like this year’s model, Barker suggests that you make a contribution to a charity in her honor, perhaps to the RNLI (The Royal National Lifeboat Institute), which patrols the waters around the British Isles to rescue those in difficulty.

Discover the picture here and key below.


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