In the late 80s, Cinderella had triple-platinum hits in the US with their debut album Night Songs (1986) and follow-up, Long Cold Winter (1988).
Night Songs was released a year after the Philadelphia group were discovered by Jon Bon Jovi and showcased a band whose sound embraced both the trashy glam-metal of LA bands Mötley Crüe and Ratt, but also a more thoughtful bluesy sound.
They were major stars of the hair metal scene with their girly clothes, thumping hard rock songs like Gypsy Road, and a supreme power ballad in Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone).
But frontman Tom Keifer had bigger dreams. On Heartbreak Station (1990), he tried to reposition Cinderella as a classic rock band in the tradition of Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. It even had Zep bassist John Paul Jones as arranger on the title track, one of the album’s best songs.
But Cinderella were not The Black Crowes. Their ‘rootsy’ vibe sounded hokey. And on the simplest level, the album didn’t kick ass. Cinderella had overreached.
In 1991, Keifer lost his voice due to a paresis of his vocal cords. He underwent several surgeries to repair a vocal cyst and haemorrhage, delaying the recording of the band’s fourth album, Still Climbing. It was finally released in 1994 but quickly disappeared from the charts.
Mercury Records consequently dropped the band. The fairytale was over.
Cinderella reunited in 1996, and a year later, Mercury Records released a greatest hits compilation titled Once Upon A… and the band was signed to Sony Records but dropped by the label before a new album could be released, plunging the band into three years of litigation.
Cinderella toured again in 2000, 2002 and 2005/2006 and had planned to tour in 2008 but in June that year, the band’s manager announced: “It is with unbelievably deep regret that I must announce that Cinderella’s Tom Keifer’s left vocal cord has haemorrhaged, thereby making it impossible for him to sing in the immediate future.”
Keifer eventually recovered and the group performed again between 2010 and 2014.
Guitarist Jeff LaBar died on 14 July 2021, aged 58. The following day, former long-term touring keyboardist Gary Corbett also died.
Vocals, guitar, keyboards, saxophone, harmonica
Albie “Al” Barker