listening to the lyrics to Being for the Benefit of Mr.
Kite on the Sgt. Pepper Lone Hearts Club Band
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?
Custer South Dakota.
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 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 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
the original poster,
Grandest Night of the Season! and positively the LAST
NIGHT BUT THREE! being for the BENEFIT OF MR.KITE, (late
of Well'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!
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.
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,
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 circus proprietor James
Kite, and an all-round performer. He is believed to have
worked in Pablo Fanque's Circus from 1843 to 1845.
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.
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
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 (1814-1902).
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
information and assistance provide by:
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
Back to Main