|"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|
"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" is a song credited to Lennon–McCartney on the 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the English rock band the Beatles. John Lennon was the lead writer of the song, but Paul McCartney also contributed to it; he remembered writing it with John in a songwriting session at Lennon's house.
The inspiration to write the song was a 19th-century circus poster for Pablo Fanque's Circus Royal appearance at Rochdale. Lennon purchased the poster in an antique shop on 31 January 1967, while the Beatles were filming the promotional videos for "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" in Sevenoaks, Kent. Lennon claimed years later to still have the poster in his home. "Everything from the song is from that poster," he explained, "except the horse wasn't called Henry." (The poster identifies the horse as "Zanthus".)
"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" is credited to Lennon–McCartney, but Lennon said he had written it entirely himself. McCartney disagrees; in a 2013 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, he said: "I read, occasionally, people say, 'Oh, John wrote that one.' I say, 'Wait a minute, what was that afternoon I spent with him, then, looking at this poster?' He happened to have a poster in his living room at home. I was out at his house, and we just got this idea, because the poster said 'Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite' – and then we put in, you know, 'there will be a show tonight,' and then it was like, 'of course,'… The song just wrote itself. So, yeah, I was happy to kind of reclaim it as partially mine.'"
Mr. Kite is believed to be William Kite, who worked for Pablo Fanque from 1843 to 1845.
"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 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. In a 1968 interview, Martin recalled that he achieved this "by playing the Hammond organ myself and speeding it up". In addition to Hammond organ, a 19th century steam organ was found for hire to enhance the carnival atmosphere effect. 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.
Before the start of the first take, Lennon sings the words "For the benefit of Mr. Kite!" in a joke accent, then 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 from a phrase lifted intact from the original Pablo Fanque poster. The exchange is recorded in The Beatles Recording Sessions 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.
"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" 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.
Paul McCartney performed the song live for the first time by any Beatle on 4 May 2013 at the Estádio Mineirão, Belo Horizonte, Brazil and throughout his 2013–2015 Out There tour. Additionally, McCartney performed the song live on the Colbert Report on 12 June 2013 as well as during his One on One tour in 2016.