"It's all just from that poster. The song is pure,
like a painting. A pure watercolor."
For the benefit of Mr. Kite
There will be a show tonight on trampoline
The Hendersons 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
In January, 1967 the Beatles were at Sevenoaks in Kent,
shooting a promotional film for “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
During a break on the set, Lennon wandered over to an antique
shop, where he saw a gaudy Victorian playbill advertising
a performance of Pablo Fanque’s Circus Royal in the
northern factory town of Rochdale in February 1843.
The poster caught Lennon’s fancy, so he bought it,
took it home and hung it in his music room, There,
he played the piano and sang phrases from the poster
until it turned into a song.
"'Mr. Kite' was a straight lift. I had all the words staring me
in the face one day when I was looking for a song. It was
from this old poster I'd bought at an antique shop. We'd
been down to Surrey or somewhere filming a piece.
There was a break, and I went into this shop and bought
an old poster advertising a variety show which starred
Mr. Kite. It said the Henderson's would also be there,
late of Pablo Fanques Fair. There would be hoops and
horses and someone going through a hogs head of real
fire. Then there was Henry the Horse.
The band would start at ten to six. All at Bishopsgate.
Look, there's the bill-- with Mr. Kite topping it. I hardly
made up a word, just connecting the lists together.
Word for word, really."
the poster text:
PABLO FANQUE'S CIRCUS ROYAL
Grandest Night of the Season!
AND POSITIVELY THE LAST NIGHT BUT THREE!
BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. KITE,
(LATE OF WELLS'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
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!
For particulars see Bills of the day.
The celebrated Mr. K
Performs his feats 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
Not only were Mr. Kite and his companions real performers
in a real troupe, they were part of one of the most successful,
best-loved fairs to tour Britain in the Victorian era.
Pablo Fanque —the owner— not just an exceptional showman
and horseman, he was also a black man making his way
in an almost uniformly white society, successfully playing
to near-capacity houses for nearly 30 years.
Lennon’s told producer George Martin that in the song’s middle eight
bars, he wanted “a ‘fairground’ production wherein one could
smell the sawdust.”
Martin collected different pieces of carnival music,
but didn't hear a "signature" carnival sound. Frustrated,
he had all of the tapes cut into small pieces and threw
them into the air.
He had the studio engineer pick up some of these random
bits of sound and tape them together and it was this
montage that became such a distinctive part
of the song, and the album.
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
"Kite" was to be one of three songs from the Sgt. Pepper album
banned from playing on the BBC, allegedly because
the phrase "Henry the Horse" combined two words
that were individually known as slang for heroin.
Lennon described the idea as "rubbish."
Who is Pablo Fanque
Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite