Hear The Most Popular 7 Seconds of Drumming Ever Recorded

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iStock

by James Hunt / Mental Floss UK

In May 1969, a funk and soul group called The Winstons released a single: Color Him Father. It sold over a million copies and eventually reached number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, winning a Grammy the following year. But despite the lead track's popularity, its B-side, Amen Brother, contains what may be the most listened-to slice of music from the last century.

When it was released, the song - an instrumental cover of Jester Hairston's 1963 song, Amen - went virtually ignored in favor of the acclaimed lead track. But in the years since, a seven-second drum solo performed by Gregory Cylvester "G. C." Coleman halfway through the song has been sampled over and over again, to the point where entire musical genres are based around it. At current estimates, over 2,000 released tracks make use of it, and more are created every day.

The drum solo became known as the Amen Break (a break is a section of a song where all but one instrument, usually drums, stop for a few seconds) after - by chance or providence - it gained popularity in the hip-hop scene of the mid 1980s. The nature of the solo allowed a number of different sounds to be cut up and rearranged to form entirely new beats, enhancing its popularity with sampling artists looking for clean drum loops to base their tracks around.

The earliest appearance of the sample on a released record is the track I Desire, from Salt-N-Pepa's 1986 debut album Hot, Cool & Vicious, though it also appears on Stetsasonic's 1986 track, Bust That Groove. Just two years later, it appeared on 10 albums (including NWA's seminal Straight Outta Compton), and by the mid-90s it was routinely appearing on hundreds of releases a year, buoyed by its discovery by British dance music producers who used it as the very basis for the new jungle music scene.

By 1997, it had become so popular that it appeared on both Oasis' hit song, D'You Know What I Mean, and David Bowie's Little Wonder, despite the artists having nothing to do with the subcultures that popularised it. According to WhoSampled, a site which tracks the use of common samples, it has already been featured on 6 releases this year, averaging more than one a week.

It's hard to say why this break snowballed in popularity over any others, though some experts say it's because the break's syncopated (irregular) rhythm means it's possible to create lots of variations by sampling and rearranging the track without making the joins too obvious.

And while the members of the band never received royalties from the use of their recording, a 2015 online campaign by British DJ's Martyn Webster and Steve Theobald raised £24,000 for Richard Spencer, the frontman and only living member of the group that produced the recording.

You can listen to the full version of The Winston's Amen Brother using the YouTube link below, but the famous moment occurs at 1:26 in. Even if you've never heard it before, we're confident you'll recognise the sound of those drums - and from now on, you'll notice them everywhere.

Image: BigStock

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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10 Facts About Steve Martin On His 75th Birthday

Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Is there anything Steve Martin can't do? In addition to being one of the world's most beloved comedians and actors, he's also a writer, a musician, a magician, and an art enthusiast. To celebrate his birthday (he turns 75 today), here are 10 things you might not have known about Steve Martin.

1. Steve Martin was a cheerleader.

As a yellleader (as he refers to it in a yearbook signature) at his high school in Garden Grove, California, Steve Martin tried to make up his own cheers, but “Die, you gravy-sucking pigs,” he later told Newsweek, did not go over so well.

2. Steve Martin's first job was at Disneyland.

Martin’s first-ever job was at Disneyland, which was located just 2 miles away from his home. He started out selling guidebooks, keeping $.02 for every book he sold. He graduated to the Magic Shop on Main Street, where he got his first taste of the gags that would later make his career. He also learned the rope tricks you see in ¡Three Amigos! from a rope wrangler over in Frontierland.

3. Steve Martin owes his writing job with the Smothers Brothers to an ex-girlfriend.

Thanks to a girlfriend who got a job dancing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Martin landed a gig writing for the show. He had absolutely no experience as a writer at the time. He shared an office with late Bob Einstein—Albert Brooks's brother, who is better known to some as Super Dave Osborne or Curb Your Enthusiasm's Marty Funkhauser—and won an Emmy for writing in 1969.

4. Steve Martin was a contestant on The Dating Game.

While he was writing for the Smothers Brothers, but before he was famous in his own right, Martin was on an episode of The Dating Game. (Spoiler alert: He wins. But did you have any doubt?)

5. Many people thought Steve Martin was a series regular on Saturday Night Live.

Martin hosted and did guest spots on Saturday Night Live so often in the 1970s and '80s that many people thought he was a series regular. He wasn't. Though at the moment, he holds the second highest record for number of guest hosting gigs on the show with 15. (Only Alec Baldwin has more, with 17.)

6. Steve Martin's father wrote a review of his son's first SNL appearance.

Steve Martin hosts a 1986 episode of Saturday Night Live.Yvonne Hemsey/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

After his first appearance on SNL, Martin’s father, the president of the Newport Beach Association of Realtors, wrote a review of his son’s performance in the company newsletter. “His performance did nothing to further his career,” the elder Martin wrote. Martin's dad also once told a newspaper, “I think Saturday Night Live is the most horrible thing on television.”

7. Steve Martin popularized the air quote.

If you find yourself making air quotes with your fingers more than you’d really like, you have Martin to thank. He popularized the gesture during his guest spots on SNL and stand-up performances.

8. Steve Martin quit stand-up comedy in the early 1980s.

Martin gave up stand-up comedy in 1981. “I still had a few obligations left but I knew that I could not continue,” he told NPR in 2009. “But I guess I could have continued if I had nothing to go to, but I did have something to go to, which was movies. And you know, the act had become so known that in order to go back, I would have had to create an entirely new show, and I wasn't up to it, especially when the opportunity for movies and writing movies came around.”

9. Steve Martin is a major art collector.

As an avid art collector, Martin owns works by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, and Edward Hopper. He sold a Hopper for $26.9 million in 2006. Unfortunately, being rich and famous doesn’t mean Martin is immune to scams: In 2004, he spent about $850,000 on a piece believed to be by German-Dutch modernist painter Heinrich Campendonk. When Martin tried to sell the piece, “Landschaft mit Pferden” (or "Landscape With Horses") 15 months later, he was informed that it was a forgery. Though the painting still sold, it was at a huge loss.

10. Steve Martin is an accomplished bluegrass performer.

Many people already know this, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Martin is an extremely accomplished bluegrass performer. With the help of high school friend John McEuen, who later became a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Martin taught himself to play the banjo when he was 17. He's been picking away ever since. If you see him on stage these days, he’s likely strumming a banjo with his band, the Steep Canyon Rangers. As seen above, they make delightful videos.

This story has been updated for 2020.