Who is ‘Mr Kite’ from The Beatles song ‘Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite!’? tt

The answer to ‘What is the greatest album by The Beatles?’ will depend on who you speak to – some Fab Four aficionados are adamant that Revolver is their greatest work, while others are dead set on the answer being Abbey Road. That’s the magnificent thing about The Beatles: their discography is so vast and varied that picking one definitive record is near-impossible.

While each of their records holds a significant place in music history, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band is arguably one of their most important releases. Not only was it hugely successful, but it was also an early example of the concept album. The ‘60s were a revolutionary time for popular music, with chart hits soon being swapped out for album success, with The Beatles spearheading a time when people were becoming more interested in listening to full, cohesive LPs.

Who is 'Mr Kite' from The Beatles song 'Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite!'?

With a loose narrative running through the songs, people were enthralled by the record as a whole, and the iconic Sgt Peppers costumes worn by the band aided this phenomenon further. Interestingly, the album contains several character-based songs such as ‘Lovely Rita’, ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’ and ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!’.

Many listeners of these tracks might have found themselves wondering who these mysterious characters are and where the band lifted their names from. For example, just who exactly is Mr Kite from the circus-inspired song?

Who was Pablo Fanque? The story behind the Beatles' Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite - ABC News

Who wrote ‘Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!’?

The tale behind the song stems from John Lennon’s obsession with collecting random junk. One day, he found an old circus poster dating back to 1843, which he knew he had to have. His friend Tony Bramwell told Rolling Stone, “He thought it was amusing because of the drawing of the acrobat on it. And he bought it for 10 shillings.”

Mr Kite was the name of a famous performer, William Kite, who was known for his time in Pablo Fanque’s circus. In the poster, he can be seen tightrope walking, although that wasn’t his only talent, he was also a riding master. Lennon’s antique acquisition advertised the ‘Grandest Night of the Season’, featuring the most acclaimed circus stars of the period, such as Kite and “the Celebrated Somerset Thrower!” known as “Mr J. Henderson”, who is also referenced in the song.

When it came to writing a song for Sgt Pepper, which increasingly became the creative domain of Paul McCartney, Lennon looked to his Victorian artefact for inspiration, setting his lyrics about the circus performers to music that could’ve soundtracked their performances.

He told Rolling Stone a few years after the album’s release, “I wrote that as a pure poetic job. I had to write it because it was time to write and I had to write it quick because otherwise I wouldn’t have been on the album.”

The lyrics for ‘Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!’

There will be a show tonight on trampoline
The Hendersons will all be there
Late of Pablo Fanque’s Fair, what a scene
Over men and horses hoops and garters
Lastly through a hogshead of real fire!
In his way Mr. K. will challenge the world!

The celebrated Mr. K
Performs his feat on Saturday at Bishopsgate
The Hendersons 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

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