A New Crowdfund Hopes To Finally Pay For The Most Sampled Drum Break In History
Who’s the most sampled drummer of all time? If you guessed James Brown‘s mainstay Clyde Stubblefield, you’re close, but not quite on the money. The answer is Gregory Coleman, and in 1969 his soul band The Winstons released their most successful single, “Color Him Father.” That 45″ shipped with a B side entitled “Amen Brother,” and embedded in that tune was a 6 second drum break that has gone on to change the course of modern music.
Coleman’s break, a loud, crashing flurry of proto-boom bap, was homed in on by early hip-hop and electronic music producers in the 80s, who then sampled the break and twisted it to fit their needs. Now known as simply the “Amen Break,” the brief solo played a large part in weaning hip-hop through its infancy and almost entirely created the dance sound that British DJs came to dub “Drum n Bass.” The Amen Break is a cornerstone of music as we now know it–and Coleman never saw a dime in royalties for his original work.
Coleman tragically passed away, homeless and broke, in 2006, never getting a single check from those who had sampled his work. But now a new GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign hopes to impart at least a little overdue justice. Set up last week by Martyn Webster, the campaign hopes to pay Richard L Spencer, The Winstons’ lead vocalist and saxophone player, at least some of what he might have collected if royalty payments had been properly paid by all of those DJs producers, and record executives. “It is nothing more than a gesture of good will and obviously totally volentary, [sic]” Webster wrote.
You can donate to the page’s fund here, and while you do, watch the video below for an even more in-depth look at the Amen Break and how new renditions of it went on to create genre after genre, scene after scene. It is in every way worth your time.
[h/t The Fader]