The Amen Break

The most influential drum loop in music history.

When four bars (6 seconds) was sampled from The Winston's "Amen Brother" drum-solo back in the 1980's, the "Amen Break" soon found it's way into electronic music throughout the world. The drum loop can be heard in countless examples of breakbeat, hip hop, breakbeat hardcore, hardcore techno and breakcore, drum and bass (including oldschool jungle and ragga jungle), and digital hardcore music. The Amen Break was heavily used in early hiphop and sample-based music, and became the foundation for drum-and-bass and jungle music—"a six-second clip that spawned several entire subcultures." It is one of the most sampled loops in contemporary electronic music and arguably the most sampled drum beat of all time.

Listen to the Amen Break:

A Brief History of the Amen Break

Nate Harrison narrates a 20-minute video history of the "Amen Break," the six-second drum sample from the B-side of a chart-topping single from 1969. Learn about the sample's beginnings and how it spread rapidly throughout the music culture of 80's hip-hop, 90's electronic music, and the relevance of it's presence in today's mainstream music culture.

"If the Amen break belongs to anyone, the 1990s generation who performed their extraordinary acts of alchemy on it would seem to have a strong claim. But in a much more tangible sense, the break, along with the rest of “Amen, Brother”, belongs to Mr Spencer, who retains the copyright to the Winstons' back catalogue. The band's former front-man says that neither he nor Coleman, who he says died in poverty in 2006, received any royalties from the extensive reuse of Amen. Mr Spencer says he only became aware of its rebirth in 1996, when he was phoned by a British music executive seeking the master tape of “Amen, Brother"

- Seven Seconds of Fire, The Economist