“For the benefit of Mr. Kite
There will be a show tonight
On trampoline” (1)
My friend Willard T. “Pete” Kyte died last Saturday night at the age of 81. He was a musician born in the “Blue Grass” of East Tennessee just in time to meet the hardships of the “Great Depression”. In his youth he and his brothers played the clubs and bars in true Troubadour fashion going from one grog-shop to another exchanging songs for tall droughts and taller tales, lightening as he went the hearts and the spirits of those assembled. From there his life took many twists and turns. Like many he left the muse to be incarnated and re-incarnated into husband, father,and grandfather; farm-hand, truck driver, and security officer with many odd-jobs in between. Some of these clothes proved ill-fitting, most he wore with elan.
“Over men and horses hoops and garters
lastly, through a hogshead of real fire”
It is said that the measure of a man, the measure of any man, is what he leaves behind.
Here stood a testament to resourcefulness, hard work, rugged determination, perseverance who in his over four score years taught all of us much about this life's many trials. No matter what the situation there was always a wry smile as if some inner voice had just reminded him that he'd simply been presented with yet another of life's little follies. Then would follow a pointed observation usually in the form of a tale or two that would make us laugh; but would also help us see.
"The celebrated Mr. K. performs his feat on Saturday
I called him “Pops”. “Pops” was like that. He was a naturally gregarious man who in some other incarnation would have made a good politician or man of the cloth which, when you think about it, is much the same thing. He made many friends, for he made friends easily, and I am honored to have been numbered among them.
Messrs. K and H assure the public
their production will be second to none”
He spent his last days, fittingly enough, in the music wing at the Ty Cobb medical facility in Comer Georgia suffering from advanced Alzheimer's, the same disease that took the life of Woody Guthrie. He is in a far better place now, his aging and emaciated body made whole to once again dance and sing. Perhaps he will join the Henderson's, late of Pablo Fanques Fair, for a command performance—What a Scene!
“having been some days in preparation
a splendid time is guaranteed for all
and tonight Mr. Kite is topping the bill.” (1)
- The Beatles “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”. From Sgt. Pepper's Lonely HeartsClub Band. 1967 Northern Songs Ltd. London.