John Lennon purchased a poster advertising Pablo Fanques’ Fair from an antique shop while filming the promo clip for Strawberry Fields Forever on 31 January 1967. He adapted the poster’s words into a song, and on this day work began on the result: Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!, the song which closed the first half of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
A number of rehearsal takes were recorded before proper work began. These were recorded over, although some remained at the end of the tape, including Lennon’s cryptic comment to George Martin that “We’ll have the Massed Alberts on by then, won’t we?” The comment was included on Plastic Beetle, part of Paul McCartney’s experimental 2000 release Liverpool Sound Collage.
The Beatles recorded seven takes of the song. Balance engineer Geoff Emerick announced take one as “For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!”, before being corrected by Lennon. This first attempt was counted in by McCartney at a tempo far too slow, and lasted just one bar before breaking down.
The backing track had George Martin on harmonium, Ringo Starr on drums, McCartney on bass guitar, George Harrison on tambourine, and Lennon singing a guide vocal. By take seven The Beatles had perfected it; the results can be heard on 1996’s Anthology 2, crossfaded with later overdubs.
Two reduction mixes, numbered eight and nine, were then made. These combined the bass guitar and harmonium onto a single track. Lennon then replaced his guide vocal with a proper attempt, with McCartney providing harmonies on the last line of each verse.
At the end of the session a mono remix was made, and was taken away by McCartney. Work finished at 3am, but the song was completed during subsequent sessions.
Also on this day...
- 2015: Ringo Starr live at Peace Center, Greenville, SC, USA
- 2010: National Trust considers campaign to buy Abbey Road Studios
- 2010: McCartney hopes Abbey Road can be saved after reports of an EMI sale
- 1975: US album release: Rock ‘N’ Roll by John Lennon
- 1970: Recording, mixing: I’m A Fool To Care, Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing by Ringo Starr
- 1967: UK single release: Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever
- 1965: Recording: The Night Before, You Like Me Too Much
- 1964: Day off in Miami
- 1963: Television: Thank Your Lucky Stars
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (evening)
- 1961: Live: St John’s Hall, Liverpool
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.