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Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite

Click here to see large image of poster
 
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
TOWN-MEADOWS, ROCHDALE

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,
introduce the
CELEBRATED
HORSE, ZANTHUS!
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
in Rochdale,
introduce his extraordinary
TRAMPOLINE LEAPS
AND
SOMERSETS!
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
 
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 stretched canvas.


Historical information from A Hard Day's Write by Steve Turner and The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn.

This page last updated May 24, 2000.



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