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Bob Marley And The Wailers’ ‘Selassie Is The Chapel’ Hits Streaming For The First Time

The Bob Marley and the Wailers’ single Selassie is the Chapel has been released on all digital platforms for the first time ever by JAD Records.

Additionally, a release from the company has revealed that 2000 copies of Selassie is the Chapel are also being made available in what it describes as a “limited edition 7 inch”.

Selassie is the Chapel is a rare, spiritual and emotive recording, one that was incredibly dear to Marley and delivers a personal statement from him about his beliefs… This beautiful song is being presented as a message of peace to the world, at a time of global turbulence. People all over the world are invited to take solace in Marley’s words and music this Christmas time, a period where for some, feelings of spirituality are most alive, and when we are filled with hope for the New Year,” the release stated. 

According to historical records, Selassie is the Chapel was written and produced by Mortimer Planno, the Rastafarian high priest who first went to greet Emperor Haile Selassie I when he visited Jamaica in 1966, and calmed a chaotic crowd of Jamaicans who had shown up to witness his arrival firsthand.

“Planno played a huge part in shaping Marley’s involvement in the Rastafarian religion and remains a significant spiritual figurehead throughout Jamaica. Marley’s beliefs and unswerving devotion to the Rastafarian faith were always a key part of his enduring message,” the JAD release noted.

Selasse is the Chapel is the first release from JAD Records in 7 years and is part of a larger catalog of Bob Marley recordings that were produced exclusively for the label during the 1960s and 70s.

JADs Records was the first label to record Bob Marley. It was established at the end of the 1960s, when American singer Johnny Nash formed a partnership with the Gong’s former manager, Danny Simms, and released recordings by Bob Marley and The Wailers, including Stir It Up and Guava Jelly.  The label folded in the early 1970s, according to a Gleaner article.

According to, Selassie is the Chapel was recorded on June 8, 1968, at the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation studio in Kingston in a session financed by Planno.  It featured Bob Marley on lead vocals, Constantine “Vision” Walker,  Rita Marley and Peter Tosh on harmony vocals.  Peter also served as guitarist, while Byahbinghi drummer Teego played the repeater drum and his compatriot Jeremiah, the funde drum.

Selassie is the Chapel had lyrics that Planno interpolated from Sonny Til and the Orioles’ 1953 chart-topping song Crying in the Chapel.     

As for Planno’s involvement with the Emperor, it came after many of the exuberant 100,000-strong Jamaicans who had come to see the “King of Kings” broke down any barriers that stood in their way in their eagerness to position themselves as close as possible to “The Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah”.

“Mr. Mortimer Planno, A Ras Tafarian leader, mounted the landing steps at the request of officials, bowed to the Emperor and also beseeched the crowd to be calm and let the Emperor pass. With assistance from the military and the police, the Emperor, his daughter and the rest of his entourage were able to leave the airport,” a Gleaner article reported.

According to The Gleaner, prior to the Emperor landing in Jamaica on  April 21, 1966, which was declared a public holiday in his honour, “people had started arriving from Wednesday night from places near and far, to form the largest crowd to have ever assembled at the Norman Manley International Airport”.

“They came to the airport any way they could ­ by car, by truck, by bus, by bicycle, by foot. Drum beats and chants were heard almost non-stop, providing an almost hypnotic rhythm. The smell of ganja wafted through the air completing a welcome unprecedented in size and expectation for the Emperor on his first state visit to Jamaica,” the publication noted.

“When the insignia of a roaring lion and stripes of red, green and gold finally came into view, the rain stopped. People shouted, “See how God stop de rain.”

According to The Gleaner, the sound from the crowd was deafening as masses of people rushed to get closer to the Emperor who “did not appear immediately as expected”, as instead the plane stood there, silent in a sea of activity and sound” opening 45 minutes later, where “His Imperial Majesty came to the top of the stairs to deplane”, to a explosive roar from the Jamaicans.

 “As tears came to his eyes as he held up his hands in what could have been half a royal gesture and half a call for calm. The crowd, thrilled beyond reason, continued to cry out, ‘God is with us. Mek me touch his garment’, paying no heed to the call for calm”, the Gleaner noted, that was, until Mortimer Planno intervened.

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