Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
|"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!"|
|Song by the Beatles from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band|
|Released||1 June 1967|
|Recorded||17 and 20 February and 28, 29, 31 March 1967|
|Genre||Psychedelic rock, circus music, experimental rock|
|Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band track listing|
"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" is a song from the 1967 album by the Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was written and composed by John Lennon, but the song is credited to Lennon–McCartney.
Lennon was inspired to write the song by a 19th century circus poster for Pablo Fanque's Circus Royal, Rochdale, that he purchased in an antique shop on 31 January 1967, while filming the promotional video for "Strawberry Fields Forever" in Sevenoaks, Kent. Lennon explained: "Everything from the song is from that poster, except the horse wasn't called Henry." (The poster identifies the horse as "Zanthus.") Mr. Kite is believed to be William Kite, who worked for Pablo Fanque from 1843 to 1845.
The full text of the original Pablo Fanque's Circus Royal poster is:
- 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, &c.
- On TUESDAY Evening, February 14, 1843.
- Mssrs. KITE and HENDERSON, in announcing the following Entertainments assure 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
- 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
- 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.
- JONES & CROSSKILL, PRINTERS AND BOOKSELLERS, YORKSHIRE STREET, ROCHDALE.
"Mr. J. Henderson" was John Henderson, a wire-walker, equestrian, trampoline artist, and clown. While the poster made no mention of "Hendersons" plural, as Lennon sings, John Henderson did perform with his wife Agnes, the daughter of circus owner Henry Hengler. The Hendersons performed throughout Europe and Russia during the 1840s and 1850s." A Hogshead is a large wooden cask.
One of the most musically complex songs on Sgt. Pepper, it was recorded by the Beatles on 17 February 1967 with overdubs on 20 February (organ sound effects), 28 March (harmonica, organ, guitar), 29 March (more organ sound effects), and 31 March. Lennon wanted the track to have a "carnival atmosphere", and told producer George Martin that he wanted "to smell the sawdust on the floor." In the middle eight bars, multiple recordings of fairground organs and calliope music were spliced together to attempt to produce this request; after a great deal of unsuccessful experimentation, Martin instructed recording engineer Geoff Emerick to chop the tape into pieces with scissors, throw them up in the air, and re-assemble them at random.
On 17 February Lennon sings the words "For the benefit of Mr. Kite!" in a joke accent, just before Emerick announces, "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite! This is take 1." Lennon immediately responds, "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" reinforcing his title preference, a phrase lifted intact from the original Pablo Fanque poster. The exchange is recorded in The Beatles Recording Sessions (slightly misquoted) and audible on track 8 of disc 2 of Anthology 2. The original recording can also be heard during the loading screen for the song if it is downloaded in the video game The Beatles: Rock Band.
It was one of three songs from the Sgt. Pepper album that was banned from playing on the BBC, supposedly because the phrase "Henry the Horse" combined two words that were individually known as slang for heroin. Lennon denied that the song had anything to do with heroin.
- John Lennon: double-tracked lead vocals and harmony vocals, Hammond organ, tape loops and harmonica
- Paul McCartney: bass, lead guitar
- George Harrison: harmonica, Hammond organ
- Ringo Starr: drums, tambourine, shaker bells and harmonica
- George Martin: piano, harmonium, Lowrey organ, glockenspiel and tape loops
- Mal Evans: bass harmonica
- Neil Aspinall: harmonica
- Geoff Emerick: tape loops
Covers and influence 
- Paul McCartney performed the song live for the first time by any Beatle on his 2013 Out There! Tour.
- The song is performed by the Bee Gees and George Burns in the 1978 film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Burns plays the Mr. Kite character as the mayor of the band's home town and the song is played by the band as a playful announcement of their return to the town for Mr. Kite's benefit.
- Električni Orgazam recorded a version on their 1983 cover album Les Chansones Populaires.
- Billy Connolly recorded a mostly spoken-word recording of the song for the George Martin compilation In My Life.
- In the film Across the Universe, Eddie Izzard appears in a cameo and does a cover of the song in a spoken form.
- In 2009, Cheap Trick released Sgt. Pepper Live, which includes the song.
- The Residents performed a cover of the song at a 40th Anniversary celebration of Sgt. Pepper with the London Sinfonietta.
- Les Fradkin has an instrumental cover in his 2007 release Pepper Front to Back.
- Mister Kite take their name from the song title.
- Easy Star All-Stars covered the song on the album Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band.
- Eric McFadden covered this song on his Devil Moon CD (2005).
- Frank Sidebottom covered this song on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 21st anniversary charity album Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father.
- The Beatles (2000). The Beatles Anthology. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. ISBN 0-8118-2684-8.
- Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-57066-1.
- Miles, Barry (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-5249-6.
- Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-25464-4.
- Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!"
- Discussion of the original poster
- A short film, containing close-up shots of the original poster
- Comparisons of modern reproductions of the poster with the original