The Amen break is a piece of history that you’ve definitely heard, you just don’t know it. It’s the most sampled loop in music history and a drum solo that’s gotten the entire world jamming to it for a few decades now.
So, what is the Amen Break? According to Wikipedia, it’s a drum break that’s been widely sampled in popular music. It comes from the 1969 track, Amen, Brother, by the soul group The Winstons, released on the B-side of their single, Colour Him Father, during the same year. The drum break lasts about six seconds and was performed by Gregory Coleman.
Since then, the break has been used as is, sped up or slowed down, for use in other music, many songs of which became big hits.
Like NWA’s Straight Outta Compton, David Bowie’s Little Wonder, Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good and The Prodigy’s Firestarter.
While the beat will live on forever, the sad part is that the drummer, Gregory Coleman, never received royalties for the Amen Break. Music execs managed to find Richard Spencer, fellow bandmate and the mastermind behind the drum beat years later though. Spencer never even knew that the band’s music had been used all over the world. Although he didn’t receive royalties either, fans set up a GoFundMe page and managed to collect a whole lot of money for him.
Interested to hear what the Amen Break sounds like? Then watch the Great Big Story video below.