Recently, someone posted a several year old interview with the singer of the Winstons regarding the “amen break”, from a BBC radio show.
(thanks to Monita / Skeleton recordings for reposting!)
In it, the singer gets asked how he feels about people using the break, and he mentions that despite the huge interest and response, by and large it’s NOT been a good thing for them: first at task is the feeling of having people using things without asking, which i one issue and much more open ended / I can see lots of different opinions on. However, much more importantly, he also mentions that the players on this record never got their due, either from the royalties of Amen Brother tune OR from the thousands and thousands of tracks which sampled it. In fact, the drummer who played that classic beat died broke and homeless in 2006!!
This is really sad and frustrating to hear – regardless of how you feel about sampling/ fair use / re-appropriation, I think EVERYONE can agree this sample is a special case which has truly helped define entire scene(s). There’s entire parties where 50% of tracks in the night involve finely diced versions of this sample. People have done documentaries about it, and spent years and years trying to reproduce it, study it, etc. Regardless of how much the artists are explicitly “owed” from all of that, I feel like it’s at least safe to say a shockingly large enough amount of disposable income has been thrown around on things connected to the sample, that it’s pretty awful that the artists didnt’ end up at least living comfortably and appropriately thanked for their contribution.
Unfortunately, since the drummer is now long since passed, there’s not much that can be done to really make things fully right. However, the singer (who didn’t play on the track but owns the rights) is still around, so Martyn Webster / DJ Destiny set up a gofundme to raise a nomninal amount to give to him. Maybe in the future there will also be something similar for the drummer’s kids, but for now I think this is a GREAT gesture to try to do SOMETHING for a person so directly involved in the creation of a killer sample, instead of everyone just shrugging their shoulders and continuing on as if that sample simply appeared out of nowhere.
Anyway, soap-box mode off. If you love jungle/tracks with the amen/sampling the amen for your own tracks/the winstons, maybe you want to kick some money towards this? Whether you’re an artist or a fan. No ones obligated but seems like a good thing to do.