The Winstons Amen Breakbeat Gesture
The amen breakbeat, possibly the most famous breakbeat and sample of all time!
Everyone knows it, and everyone knows where it came from, so that story does not need to be told again here.
However, what is little known, is that the The Winstons have never received a single penny for its use in the countless music that contains it.
Richard L Spencer, (Lead vocals and sax player) who wrote the arrangement was totally unaware of its cult status until around 1996. It was during that time that he was recovering from a heart attack when he received a phone call from a record label looking to get hold of the masters.
This surprised him, has he had not had any dealings with the music industry since 1971, which was when he left the scene to carry on with his life, education and work. During that time he had not received a single penny of royalties from publishing or airplay. Bare in mind that it sold over 1 million copies on the back of the A side "Color him father". That could of been a LOT of money!
While recovering from his operation at home, he decided to research the song more and to try to find out why there was a sudden interest in it.
He quickly realised the scale of what had gone on regarding the sampling of the breakbeat, and never returned the call to the record label.
Unfortunately, by this time the statute of limitations had run out, and he was unable to legally persue anyone for using the beat in their music. In this era, there were no copyright laws in place regarding sampling like today. Obviously with the amount that it had been used, it would of been logistically impossible to chase after everyone that had used it, and would of cost untold amounts of money in legal bills too.
All he could do was sit back, be frustrated, and accept what had happened. He gave some interviews at the time, and got on with his life.
Gregory Coleman, the drummer who actually played the beat, also never received any royalties from the sample, he sadly died a broke and homeless man around 2006.
Fast forward to 2011, and the BBC/1Xtra radio station ran a feature on the cult amen breakbeat.
As part of that, DJ and presenter Kutski tracked down Richard L Spencer and recorded a short interview with him. This can be heard on the BBC 1Xtra website here:
During that interview, Richard reveals his frustrations regarding people sampling his music, and that they got nothing back for it.
He went on to say, he would love for people to "do the right thing" and give a little something back for using the beat, and to make it legal.
This is where I came into the story (myself a long term lover of the amen break. I grew up on electro, hiphop, rap, UK breakbeat hardcore, jungle and drum & bass scenes) after hearing the interview that someone had posted in a Facebook jungle music group.
It got me thinking, that no one had actually taken up the challange of trying to fulfill his wishes, so I immediately tasked myself with getting in contact with Richard, which I managed quite quickly. I explained my plan to try to get a donation page up and running, and got his blessings to do so.
All monies raised will be given to him, as the copyright owner of Amen brother.
So here is where all of you come in, if you have ever written or sold any music with the amen break, or even just enjoyed one of the countless hundreds and hundreds of tunes that contain it over various genres and styles of music, please donate towards the good cause of the worldwide music community giving something back to the man behind the legendary breakbeat.
Please be aware, this is in no way a means to try to chase royalties, fees or to pay for sample clearance.
It is nothing more than a gesture of good will and obviously totally voluntary.
Thankyou from myself, and also on behalf of Richard.
As the campaign has now become very public, the terms from gofundme say that I have to add some more information to help protect against funding campaigns that are set up as scams, so here is the info required:
1. Who you are
I am Martyn Webster, 42, A DJ from UK who grew up on music. I started in the mid 80's with electro, hiphop, and rap, this moved on to electronic genres and ultimately the UK breakbeat hardcore scene. At this point in early 1992 I started mixing and buying vinyl.
I played out at many clubs and venues around the area I live, and followed the scene through the famous jungle era and onto drum & bass.
Of course, all of these genres right from the rap tunes of 1986 started to sample and use the amen break. Thus, I became one of the generation who took it under their wing and loved it in all of its mutations.
I hung up my headphones in 2004 and had a break (excuse the pun!) from the DJ scene. Seven years later the yearning to mix again was too much, so I got another pair of Technics and now mix for personal enjoyment at home.
Over the years I have built up a large network of friends and contacts both off and online, along with my youtube channel ( www.youtube.com/user/martynwebster) which has a huge following. I set up the channel as a way to share the passion and knowledge of the music scenes I have loved so much. The channel has nearly 4 million views and just under 7 thousand subscribers.
2. Where you're from
I am from the UK and have lived here all my life, in and around the Northamptonshire area.
3. Your relationship to the parties you're raising funds for
I am simply a fan and long term lover of the sample that was generated from Richard and The Winstons music (Color me father is also a wonderful tune in its own right, and as a step father myself, I can associate with it)
4. How the funds will be spent (be specific as possible)
As above, all money raised will go to Richard.
Some people have said some should go to the daughter and step-daughter of Gregory Coleman (the drummer).
If we are able to get in contact with them then it is definitely something that could also happen.
5. How you intend to get the funds to those in need
Ultimately, the perfect end to this whole campaign would be to have the opportunity to hand deliver a cheque to Richard, and something I would take great pride in doing. With me being in the UK and him in the USA it makes things slightly harder, but not impossible.
If I can scrape together the money for flights it will happen.
Otherwise, I will have to transfer funds via banking.
I sat and debated if I should actually do this, knowing in my head it was either going to be a total flop, or go crazy. The fact that it had the potential to go crazy is what put me off doing it! I don't like being put under a spotlight, and definitely don't do interviews! I've never been able to pick up a microphone in the 20+ years I've been mixing and playing at events, but on a pair of decks I'm more than happy.
In the end I thought sod it, no one else has come up with the idea, so if I don't do it, who will? I created the page, hit submit and shared it here. Little did I know what was about to happen! I could not believe the speed the donations started to come in at, it was like a run away train! The amount of times the pages got shared too, and then within 24 hrs or so magazine articles and features, NME, Rolling Stone, BBC interest, Radio 4 interviews etc etc. If you google my name it suggests amen break and returns nearly quarter of a million hits! £24000 later and my sanity had to be restored, it was consuming every minute of the day, I had to draft in the help of my partner and best mate to help keep on top of things. Due to how Gofundme works I had to transfer the money from my own bank account as the donations came in, they got rather suspicious as to why I was suddenly transferring money to someone in America and I got all sorts of fraud and money laundering questions thrown at me. All of that was rather stressful to say the least, so with a heavy heart I had to close the page and call it a huge success. However, people were still contacting me wanting to donate, so I spoke with Gofundme and asked if they could change how the donating were forwarded to Richard, sadly they couldn't or wouldn't do it. So I spoke with Richard and decided to set up a new page in a different way so it could stay open indefinitely, so if anyone wants to donate again, or share this to keep it going, please check out https://www.gofundme.com/amenbrother2
Thank you again to everyone who supported the original campaign!
Posted by Martyn Webster
The total has sat at £23992 for the last few days, then an hour ago someone donated the magic £8 to take it to a very impressive £24000!
So that seems like a fantastic milestone to end on.
When I started the campaign I had no idea at all how successful it might be, hence my original target of £1000. To get that much would of been a success, so to get 24 times that is just crazy!
I would love to take the chance now to thank everyone who has donated, everyone who has written a feature about the campaign on their website, especially Robin from
the BBC World Service for his amazing audio feature which helped give the donations a huge boost.
I never dreamt of how many websites would pick on it, especially ones as big as Rolling Stone and similar! Also, everyone who helped share the links and spread the word.
Last but not least, Richard's niece Shannon, his son Richard, and finally, my best mate Steve who have all been a huge help in various ways. I would of struggled to keep
on top of everything without you all!
To close for now, a message from
Richard to everyone:
"Special thanks to Martyn Webster and his associates, as well as, all of the friends of this significantly beautiful piece of orchestration called “The Amen Breakbeat Gesture". You have made a very loving statement through the “GoFundMe" event that I will cherish forever. Thanks for your psychological and monetary contributions.
PS. There are a few more updates to come soon, so stay tuned :)
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You need to open this up again, I plus millions of others have just heard about this page. I used to produce and Lord knows that set got sampled.
While I'm glad the campaign was so successful, I'm sorry that I missed the opportunity to contribute. I've enjoyed so much music built on the Amen break. If the campaign resumes, I will definitely throw a few bucks in the pot. Hopefully, some of the actual artists who used the sample will do so as well. Either way, good on you for doing this! You're a good man. Amen brother!
If you added up every time this sample was used it would have made millions from sample clearance and album sales. I agree that the high profile artists that made huge money off of this sample should step up and show some respect and send some well deserved cash his way. Thank you for what you created. NoRecordSnobs.com
Would love your support for my next project bro! Would mean ah hell of a lot to me. Check out my FundME campaign as soon as you get a chance please. Just click the link below to learn more: https://www.fundme.com/en/projects/21721-HELP-FUND-THE-MEDICCI-PROJECT
This is a good cause, lots of you dj and producers are spoiled and infamous if you don't respect those authors, responsible of the sound you love, i deeply understand the drummer, died broke and homeless, cause i'm on the verge of living on the streets either, (i thank my parents that are still alive), in any case i really hope you are serious with the cause Martyn Webster, i rely on your honesty, may you live in peace for the rest of your days. https://youtu.be/vBJTEsSagXI https://youtu.be/UKChrjMthpM https://youtu.be/3fWul_R2UOw https://youtu.be/BMYUAzuMv-c https://soundcloud.com/estimate/errata-retort-wip
My Name Is Clinton Bonds, And Im Trying To Raise Money For Travel Exspenses So That I Can Save My Part, However Small In My Childrens Lives. I Am The Father Of 4 , 2 Who Live With Me And 2 That Do Not, I Am Trying To Stop The Mother Of The 2 That Dont, From Erasing Me from They're Lives Completely. I Lost My Job On March The 17th And Have Not Yet Found Work, And On Friday the 27th I Received A Letter From (Lets Call her LESLEY) Lesleys Lawyer That On April The 7th He Will Be Going In Front Of A Judge In Galesburgh Illinois, To Request "*For The Sake Of The Children*" To Have Not Only They're Last Names, But They're Middle Names As Well, Changed. She Wants To Change Chance Wayne To Chance Scott? Really? And Katelyn Marie To Katelyn Scarlett? Again Really? And They're Last Name Would Be Changed To Sinnot To Match Her And Her New Husbands Name. I Love My Kids And It Kills Me That She Wont Let Me See Them, Or Talk To Them, And This Would Just Finish Her Task Of Making Sure It's As If I Never Existed, If You've Read This Far Then I'm Begging You For Your Help. If I Can't Raise The Money For This Trip To Take A Stand Then She Wins, I At Least Want To Try To Present My Case To The Judge And Try To Stop This From Happening. Thank You For Any Help You Can Give.
We are throwing a vinyl only sunday session to raise $ for this noble cause. With special guest ... LTJ BUKEM and Perth's Best DJs. Respect. https://www.facebook.com/events/931524563533899/
The link for Loopmasters is not working, returning a 404?
Keep this going mate, superb idea. I knew they never got paid for the break so it feels great to be part of this. FairPlay to everyone who has donated so far and it sure would be nice to see some of the labels and artists chip in. Definite thumbs up to splitting the money with the daughter too!
Oi!! Ray Keith, you gots some transferring to do mate..... lol AMEN4LIFE
All I ' Need ' to say is ' What a helluva Drummer, Father, and Dear, Dear friend - Forever ! :-)
Have any of the big labels or artists donated anything? Seems they have actually profited the most...
wow. I've been a big lover of your Channel, Martyn! Super idea.
None of this would have happen with out you.
HUGE respect to Martyn (and Steve and Em for their assistance) and biggups to the Winstons for, well, being the people that helped kickstart rave music without even knowing it. I only wish that they got the recognition they deserved earlier. I hope this helps Robert and the Winstons appreciate just how much we all appreciate what they gave us. Respect due.