Being For The
Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
I was listening to the lyrics to
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite on the Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts
Club Band album. I was wondering where John Lennon got his
inspiration for this song or did he just come up with the song on
his own? Also it seems to be set in a carnival/circus is there any
real history in the lyrics? Brittney, Custer, South
Brittney, here are the lyrics to
"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,"
For the benefit of Mr. Kite, There will be a show tonight on
trampoline , The Henderson's will all be there, Late of Pablo
Fanques Fair - what a scene,
Over men and horses, hoops and garters, Lastly through a hogshead
of real fire! In this way Mr. K. will challenge the world!
The celebrated Mr. K., Performs his feat on Saturday at
Bishopsgate, The Henderson's will dance and sing As Mr. Kite flies
through the ring - don't be late ,
Messrs. K. and H. assure the public, Their production will be
second to none, And of course Henry The Horse dances the waltz!
The band begins at ten to six, When Mr. K. performs his tricks
without a sound , And Mr. H. will demonstrate, Ten somersets he'll
undertake on solid ground
Having been some days in preparation , A splendid time is
guaranteed for all , And tonight Mr. Kite is topping the bill.
Writing on the original poster,
PABLO FANQUE'S CIRCUS ROYAL
Grandest Night of the Season! and positively the LAST NIGHT BUT
THREE! being for the BENEFIT OF
(late of Well's Circus) and Mr. J. Henderson, the celebrated
somerset-thrower! Wire dancer, vaulter, rider, etc. On TUESDAY
Evening, February 14, 1843
Mrs. 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
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!
On January 31, 1967
the Beatles went to Knole Park near Sevenoaks to make the
promotional film for Strawberry Fields Forever. There John went
into an antique shop close to the hotel were they were using in
Sevenoaks. John and an Apple employee wandered into the shop and
spotted the framed Victorian circus poster and bought it.
John was inspired by
the language and the names of the performers on the poster. He
began to compose a song based on the poster. On February 17, 1967
The Benefit Of Mr. Kite was recorded at EMI Studio Two , and
was released on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album on
June 1, 1967.
Pablo Fanque, Mr. Kite and the Henderson's were never more than
colorful names that inspired John. Records show that 150 years
ago, they were real stars in the circus world. Mr. Kite was
William Kite, son of
proprietor James Kite, and an all-round performer. He is believed
to have worked in Pablo Fanque's Circus from 1843 to 1845.
The Henderson's were
wire-walker, equestrian, tramplinist and clown John Henderson and
his wife Agnes, the daughter of circus owner Henry Hengler. The
Henderson's traveled 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 banners held
between two people and a 'trampoline' in those days was a wooden
springboard rather than stretched canvas.
Pablo Fanque was a
multi-talented performer who became the first black circus
proprietor in Britain. He was
born William Darby in Norwich in 1796, He was orphaned at an
early age, he apprenticed with William Batty, the owner of a
traveling circus. Under Batty's tutelage, he became proficient at
horse riding, rope dancing and acrobatics, and soon joined the
troupe of Andrew Ducrow, who ran one of the most famous circus
troupes of the time.
He rejoined Batty in 1834, and performed at the Royal
Amphitheatre, Liverpool. In 1836 he was described as the 'loftiest
jumper in England'. In 1841 Fanque left Batty's circus to start
his own show with two horses. W.F. Wallet, the famous clown,
joined him and they traveled north, opening at Wakefield where
Fanque had erected a circus. Over the next six years, "by his own
industry and talent, he got together as fine a stud of horses and
ponies as any on England". He married Susannah Marlaw, the
daughter of a button maker, and started a family.
In 1847 Fanque made his London debut, which was a highly
successful engagement. The London Illustrated News reported that
"Mr. Pablo Fanque is an artiste of color, and his steed…we have
not only never seen surpassed, but never equaled…Mr. Pablo Fanque
was the hit of the evening. The steed in question was Beda, the
black mare that Fanque had bought from Batty. That the horse
attracted so much attention was testament to Fanque's
extraordinary horse training skills.
After his success in London, he established his troupe in
Manchester, outselling all his competition, which enabled him to
remain there with Wallet the clown, always performing to full
houses. In 1848, his wife Susannah died in a freak accident when
part of the pit collapsed. Several planks hit her on the head and
she died instantly. She was buried in Leeds' Woodhouse Cemetery.
Fanque continued to perform throughout the country, with his
children, giving open air performances and working with the
biggest names in the business, including Young Hernandez
(1832-1861) the great American rider, and the clown Henry Brown
Pablo Fanque died in Stockport in 1871, and was buried in the
grave of his first wife. The hearse was preceded by a band,
playing the 'Dead March', followed by Pablo's favorite horse, four
coaches and his family and friends.
In an age when slavery had not yet been abolished, Fanque appears
to have been accepted not only by the circus fraternity, but also
by the general public. Thirty years after Fanque's death, the Rev.
Thomas Horne, chaplain of the Showman's Guild, wrote:
"In the great brotherhood of the equestrian world there is no
color line, for, although Pablo Fanque was of African extraction,
he speedily made his way to the top of his profession. The
camaraderie of the Ring has but one test, ability". - John
Robinson, Sideshow World
Some information and assistance
A Hard Day's Write by
Steve Turner, The Beatles Recording
Sessions by Mark Lewisohn, Information on Pablo Fanque by
Dr. John M. Turner, Lyrics to
"Being for the Benefit to Mr. Kite" from Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts
Club Band Apple Records 1967.
If you have a question you would like
to submit email us at the
Back to Ask The Staff
Back to Main