"Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!"
- ohn Lennon - Lead Vocals, Organ (Hammond L-100), Harmonica (Hohner)
- Paul McCartney - Bass Guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001 S), Lead Guitar (1964 Fender Esquire), Backing Vocals
- George Harrison - Maracas, Bass Harmonica (Hohner), Backing Vocals
- Ringo Starr - Drums (1964 Ludwig Super Classic Black Oyster Pearl), Harmonica (Hohner)
- George Martin - Harmonium (Mannborg), Organ (Wurlitzer), Piano (Hamburg Steinway Baby Grand), Glockenspiel
- Mal Evans - Harmonica (Hohner)
- Neil Aspinall - Harmonica (Hohner)
“It was from this old poster for an old-fashioned circus from the 1800’s that I’d bought at an antique shop. We’d been filming a TV piece to go with ‘Strawberry Fields Forever.’ There was a break and I went into this shop and bought an old poster advertising a variety show which starred Mr. Kite.”
“John got the idea for ‘Mr. Kite’ when we were filming in Sevenoaks in Kent,”
“We had a lunch break, and we went in an antique shop on the way to the restaurant…We were looking at what they had there and John pulled out this thing that we found…a little poster which had more or less the whole lyric of the song ‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!’ on it…I think he was just advanced in his awareness of putting everything in a song”
I wrote that as a pure poetic job, to write a song sitting there. I had to write because it was time to write. And I had to write it quick because otherwise I wouldn't have been on the album. So I had to knock off a few songs. I knocked off A Day In The Life, or my section of it, and whatever we were talking about, Mr Kite, or something like that. I was very paranoid in those days, I could hardly move.
I threw the bits up in the air but, amazingly, they came back together in almost the same order. We all expected it to sound different but it was virtually the same as before! So we switched bits around and turned some upside down.
I knew we needed a backwash, a general mush of sound, like if you go to a fairground, shut your eyes and listen: rifle shots, hurdy-gurdy noises, people shouting and - way n the distance - just a tremendous chaotic sound. So I got hold of old calliope tapes, playing Stars And Stripes Forever and other Sousa marches, chopped the tapes up into small sections and had Geoff Emerick throw them up in the air, re-assembling them at random.
In terms of asking me for particular interpretations, John was the least articulate. He would deal in moods, he would deal in colours, almost, and he would never be specific about what instruments or what line I had. I would do that myself... John was more likely to say, as in the case of Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!, 'It's a fairground sequence. I want to be in that circus atmosphere; I want to smell the sawdust when I hear that song. So it was up to me to provide that.
The whole song is from a Victorian poster, which I bought in a junk shop. It is so cosmically beautiful. It's a poster for a fair that must have happened in the 1800s. Everything in the song is from that poster, except the horse wasn't called Henry. Now, there were all kinds of stories about Henry the Horse being heroin. I had never seen heroin in that period. No, it's all just from that poster. The song is pure, like a painting, a pure watercolour.
Mr Kite! is such a crazy, oddball song that I thought it would freshen up the set. Plus the fact that I'd never done it. None of us in the Beatles ever did that song [in concert]. And I have great memories of writing it with John. 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,' then it had 'Henry the Horse dances the waltz.' You know, whatever. 'The Hendersons, Pablo Fanques, somersets...' We said, 'What was 'somersets'? It must have been an old-fashioned way of saying somersaults.' The song just wrote itself. So, yeah, I was happy to kind of reclaim it as partially mine.