An image showing dozens of celebrities who have died in 2022 is inspired by the cover art for The Beatles’ 1967 album, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. It is a piece of work produced annually by a British artist and it includes different popular figures each year. However, it has been used and shared to spread a conspiracy theory about people “dying suddenly” post-COVID-19 vaccination.
One Facebook user, whose post has amassed more than 570 interactions (here), uploaded the image of more than 150 notable figures, including Queen Elizabeth, singer Meat Loaf, actor Olivia Newton-John and former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, alongside the caption: “Celebrities who ‘died suddenly’ in 2022.”
A link to a film titled “Died Suddenly”, of which multiple claims have been addressed by Reuters in a previous fact-check (here), has been included in the comments.
Similar iterations, which together have hundreds of shares, can be seen here, here, here and here.
However, the picture shows this year’s take on the annual project and includes celebrities who have died from numerous causes in 2022.
British artist Chris Barker posted the image on Instagram (here and here), the latter of which includes the caption, “#sgtpepper2022 update. I haven't done a revised key yet but here is a list of the sad additions to the image,” and a key of all the names on Twitter (here).
Examples from other years can be found here (2021), here (2020), here (2019), here (2018), here (2017) and here (2016).
Multiple outlets have reported on this year’s iteration (here, here and here).
The piece includes people whose cause of death is completely unrelated to the “Died Suddenly” conspiracy theory, such as former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated (here), and BBC presenter Bill Turnbull, who died following a well-documented battle with prostate cancer (here). It also includes Microsoft Internet Explorer, a web browser which began being phased out in 2022 (here and here).
Missing context. The artwork is an annual project produced by an artist and includes celebrities who have died from numerous causes in 2022.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.
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