A crowdfunding initiative is looking to put money in the pockets of the pockets of the creators of the most sampled break of all time.
First appearing on the B-Side of American Soul group The Winstons’ million selling 1969 single ‘Color Him Father’, a fragment of ‘Amen Brother’ would go on to become arguably most influential six seconds of music ever made. The fragment in question is of course best known as the Amen Break, and it should be instantly familiar to anyone who’s ever visited this website. Sampled and manipulated, it became the very basis for Jungle and Drum and Bass, whilst also appeared in tracks by everyone from N.W.A to Oasis.
Copyright laws (or a lack thereof), at the time meant that the widespread sampling of the Amen Break was allowed to take place without any royalties finding their way to its creators whatsoever. The lead saxophonist and vocalist for the group, Richard L. Spencer (who also wrote the track’s arrangement), was unaware of his work’s collosal influence until 1996 – by which point he’d been inactive as a musician for nearly 25 years. Gregory Coleman meanwhile, the drummer who played the track’s famous drum break, tragically passed away homeless and broke around 2006.
Inspired by hearing a 2011 Radio 1 interview in which Spencer aired his frustrations at people sampling his music for free, self professed “long term lover of the Amen Break”, Martyn Webster, sought to rectify the situation. After seeking out Spencer and getting his blessing, Webster set up a donation page on crowdfunding site gofundme.com, with the purpose of provoking people to, “donate towards the good cause of the worldwide music community giving something back to the man behind the legendary breakbeat.” After posting his page yesterday, 18th February, Webster had already at the time of writing raised £1276 – exceeding his initial £1000 target.
Update: This campaign has now passed the £20,000 mark, raised by over 1,700 people in 1 month.