The Beatles Song That Pushed George Martin to the Brink of Exhaustion

The work of a producer isn’t always easy, but rarely does it result in physical exhaustion. However, John Lennon and one outlandish idea once brought George Martin to the brink of passing out.

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While making Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Lennon penned “Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite.” He got the inspiration for the song after seeing a poster in Kent, England. He used the words on the poster to compose the lyrics, resulting in a complex (if a little odd) Beatles track.

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, the lyrics read.

[RELATED: Remember When: John Lennon Gave His Last Live Performance After Losing a Wager to Elton John]

While the lyrics are certainly interesting enough on their own, the sound of a fairground adds even more atmosphere to this track. It was Lennon’s idea that the song have a certain chaos to it, but it was Martin who had to pull it off. As the story goes, it took quite the toll on the legendary producer.

Martin and the engineer on duty pieced together different fragments of the tape to give the song a frenzied feel. Moreover, Martin personally added harmonium elements–an instrument that is somewhere between a keyboard and an accordion. After playing the taxing instrument for hours, Martin reached the brink of exhaustion.

“You have to pump the harmonium with your feet,” Geoff Emerick, the engineer, once said. “He was pumping away for four hours. He collapsed onto the floor after that, spread-eagled and exhausted.”

Martin’s efforts certainly paid off. It’s one of the most interesting songs in the Beatles’ catalog–which is full of strange, off-kilter songs. Nevertheless, Lennon didn’t feel quite satisfied with the end result.

“I wasn’t proud of that,” Lennon once said (per Genius). “There was no real work. I was just going through the motions because we needed a new song for Sgt. Pepper at that moment.”

(Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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