First Choice Biography
Their first big breakthrough was the infectious "Armed and Extremely Dangerous". Rochelle Fleming, Joyce Jones, and Chester, PA, native Annette Guest were originally known as the Debonettes and performed around Philadelphia.
Lead singer Rochelle Fleming and Annette Guest were part of a vocal quintet when both were students at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia. Rehearsing in Guest's mother's house, the group began making the rounds of talent shows and public events. After contacting WDAS Radio DJ Georgie Woods, introduced them to Philly soul guitarist, songwriter, producer and The Delfonics' manager Norman Harris. By the time the group went into the recording studio, the lineup was Fleming, Guest, Wardell Piper, and Mulaney Star. The group's first release was a song written by Harris and Allan Felder, the pumping "This Is the House Where Love Died," which was leased to New York's Sceptor Records and issued on their Wand imprint in 1972, but failed to chart nationally. Soon after Mulaney Star left the group.
In 1973, the group signed to the Philly Groove label which was distributed by Bell Records. Their next single "Armed and Extremely Dangerous," was their first big hit, going to number 11 R&B on Billboard's charts in early 1973. The track was also a Top 20 U.K. hit. Around this time, Wardell Piper exited the group and was replaced by Joyce Jones.
Armed and Extremely Dangerous was released in fall 1973. The single "Smarty Pants," a cautionary tale about unwanted pregnancy, reached number 25 on the R&B charts. The album included a cover of the Al Green classic "Love and Happiness." The trio's next single, the pumping "Newsy Neighbors," peaked at number 35 R&B in early 1974.
Around 1977, Joyce Jones left the group and was replaced by Ursula Herring. Delusions, released in fall 1977 is generally regarded as the trio's best LP, it featured lyrically rich dance tunes as well as luscious ballads and gave Philadelphia native Fleming her best showcase, displaying one of the most distinctive lead vocalists in soul/dance/pop music. Fleming's vocals are also one of the most sampled, heard on countless dance records from around the world. Their next Gold Mind LP, Hold Your Horses, was released in March 1979, with the title track becoming a disco classic. That same year, Debbie Martin replaced Ursula Herring. Around 1983 the trio split.
In the 80s, the disco influenced house music genre emerged new life was breathed into disco-soul groups like First Choice. "Love Thang" and "Let No Man Put Asunder" began to surface in club DJs' dance-floor mixes, and were met with loud enthusiasm from the crowd. Possibly bolstered by countless bootlegs, Salsoul issued a 12'' single remix of "Let No Man Put Asunder" by DJ Frankie Knuckles. He helped popularize the record by including it in his turntable mixes during his stints at Chicago night club The Warehouse and on his lunchtime "hot mixes" on local radio station WBMX-FM. Delusions was reissued on CD by U.K. label Charly in December 1994.
In 1987, Fleming reformed a version of First Choice with her cousin Laconya Fleming and Lawrence Cottel, who recorded a single for Prelude Records, "Love Itch." In the '90s, Rochelle Fleming continued to record in the U.S. and Europe.
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