On January 31, 1967 the Beatles went to Knole Park near Sevenoaks
in Kent to make the promotional film for Strawberry Fields Forever.
"There was an antique shop close to the hotel we were using in Sevenoaks,"
remembers former Apple employee Tony Bramwell.
"John and I wandered in and John spotted this framed Victorian circus poster and bought it."
Inspired by the finely-wrought language and the evocative
names of the performers on the poster, John began to compose
a song based on it. By now it was hanging on the wall of
his music room and John's long-time friend Pete Shotten can
remember him squinting at the words while he picked out a tune
on his piano.
Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite was
recorded at EMI Studio Two on February 17, 1967, and was released
on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album on June
1, 1967, in mono and stereo. The rarer mono version has very
small differences in the sounds of the tape loops during the
"circus organ" part in the middle of the song.
John's original poster was last known to be in the
posession of Sean Lennon.
The Real Words
John got many of words for Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite
right off the original Mr. Kite poster, using some of them word
for word, including the title of the song itself.
Notice below, in the complete words from the poster, the unforgettable images from the song,
including "over men and horses, hoops and garters", "somersets on solid ground", and a
"hogshead of real fire"!
PABLO FANQUE'S CIRCUS ROYAL
Grandest Night of the Season!
AND POSITIVELY THE
LAST NIGHT BUT THREE!
BEING FOR THE
BENEFIT OF MR. KITE,
(LATE OF WELLS'S CIRCUS) AND
MR. J. HENDERSON,
THE CELEBRATED SOMERSET THROWER!
WIRE DANCER, VAULTER, RIDER, etc.
On TUESDAY Evening, February 14, 1843.
Mssrs. KITE and
HENDERSON, in announcing the following Entertainments ensure
the Public that this Night's Production will be
one of the most splendid ever produced in this Town,
having been some days in preparation.
Mr. Kite will, for this night only,
Well known to be one of the
best Broke Horses
IN THE WORLD!!!
Mr. HENDERSON will undertake the arduous Task of
THROWING TWENTY-ONE SOMERSETS,
ON THE SOLID GROUND.
Mr. KITE will appear, for the
first time this season,
On The Tight Rope,
When Two Gentlemen Amateurs
of this Town will
perform with him.
Mr. HENDERSON will, for the first time
introduce his extraordinary
Over Men & Horses, through Hoops,
over Garters and lastly through a
Hogshead of REAL FIRE!
In this branch of the profession
Mr. H challenges THE WORLD!
For particulars see Bills of the day.
The Real Pablo Fanque
Pablo Fanque, Mr. Kite and the Hendersons were never more
than colorful names to John, but records show that 150 years ago,
they were real stars in the circus world. Mr. Kite was William
Kite, son of circus proprietor James Kite, and an all-round
performer. He is believed to have worked in Pablo Fanque's
Circus from 1843 to 1845.
Pablo Fanque was a multi-talented performer who became the
first black circus proprietor in Britain. His real name was
William Darby and he was born in Norwich in 1796. He started
calling himself Pablo Fanque in the 1830's.
The Hendersons were wire-walker, equestrian, tramplinist
and clown John Henderson and his wife Agnes, the daughter
of circus owner Henry Hengler. The Hendersons travelled all over
Europe and Russia during the 1840's and 1850's. The 'somersets'
which Mr. Henderson performed on 'solid ground' were somersaults,
'garters' were were banners held between two people and a
'trampoline' in those days was a wooden springboard rather than
Historical information from A Hard Day's Write
by Steve Turner and The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn.