DJs Raise $36K for the Man Behind One of Music's Most Common Samples
Richard Spencer is the last surviving member of The Winstons, the group who cut the song the 'Amen Break' is from
For as long as sampling has been an art form in hip-hop, electronic and dance music, there have been people left out in the cold as those genres ascended to mainstream popularity.
Case in point: The “Amen break,” as it’s known – a six-second drumbeat played by drummer Gregory Coleman on The Winstons’ 1969 song “Amen, Brother.”
The cleverly syncopated drum solo was a cornerstone of early hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass music and anything that required samples: It’s in songs by N.W.A., David Bowie, and even turns up in the Futurama theme song, and it’s one of the most recognizable drumbeats ever recorded.
And, owing to the vagaries of sampling and copyright law, none of the original musicians ever got paid for it. Until this week.
Earlier this year, British DJs Martyn Webster and Steve Theobald set up a GoFundMe campaign to scrape up some money for Richard Spencer, the sole surviving member and frontman of the Winstons and the song’s copyright holder.
The DJs’ modest early goal was quickly exceeded, and the GoFundMe ended up raising around $36,500 for Spencer.
“Thank you so much for this great contribution to my life,” Spencer said in a Facebook video he posted after receiving his check, which, sadly, is probably a fraction of what he’s actually owed – not that he’s complaining. “Thank you very, very much. A-men!”