The Amen break is a 6 to 7 second (4 bar) drum solo performed in 1969 by Gregory Cylvester “G. C.” Coleman in the song “Amen, Brother” performed by the 1960s funk and soul outfit The Winstons. The full song is an up-tempo instrumental rendition of Jester Hairston‘s “Amen,” which he wrote for the Sidney Poitier film Lilies of the Field (1963) and which was subsequently popularized by The Impressions in 1964. The Winstons’ version was released as a B-side of the 45 RPM 7-inch vinyl single “Color Him Father” in 1969 on Metromedia (MMS-117), and is currently available on several compilations and on a 12-inch vinyl re-release together with other songs by The Winstons.
It gained fame from the 1980s onwards when four bars (6 seconds) sampled from the drum-solo (or imitations thereof) became very widely used as sampled drum loops in 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 used extensively in early hiphop and sample-based music, and became the basis 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.