Hair-metal band from suburban Philly is still rocking after 25 years
A quarter century has passed since Jon Bon Jovi placed the glass slipper onto the foot of Cinderella. The future pop-rock superstar checked out of the band’s shows and was impressed enough to let his label, Mercury Records, know about the young metal act out of suburban Philadelphia.
Mercury was just as taken with Cinderella as Bon Jovi.
A year after signing the band, the group released its breakthrough debut album, Night Songs. The disc, which dropped in 1986, went triple platinum courtesy of such hit singles as “Shake Me,” “Nobody’s Fool” and “Somebody Save Me.”
Cinderella's classic video for 1986's "Shake Me":
It didn’t hurt that Mercury gave the band ample support as the group continued to flourish during the hair-metal era.
“Those were some great days,” singer-songwriter Tom Keifer tells Atlantic City Weekly.
“So many things went our way during the ’80s. We worked the songs hard and people responded. It was a period that I’ll never forget.”
But grunge burst the hair metal bubble during the early ’90s. Cinderella’s last album, 1994’s Still Climbing was but a blip on the rock radar. After appearing for just a week on the Billboard Top 200 chart, the album fizzled and Mercury dropped Cinderella.
But that wasn’t all that troubled Cinderella.
“I had vocal problems back then and even earlier than that,” Keifer says. “That’s why there was such a gap between the albums Heartbreak Station and Still Climbing. It was a really scary time. My voice was all over the place at the end of the Heartbreak Station tour. I had no control over it.”
Kiefer was diagnosed with paresis of his left vocal cord, which is akin to paralysis.
“It was difficult because it can be career ending,” Kiefer says. “There’s no surgery or medicine to cure it. You have to re-train the vocal cord to do what it should do. I had to work hard so we could make Still Climbing.”
Kiefer was rolling along fairly well vocally until the band’s 2006 tour with Poison.
“It hit me again, but this time it was really hard,” Kiefer recalls. “I decided to tour with my voice in such shape. At first it wasn’t so bad, but it got worse and worse.”
Surgery was necessary since Kiefer put a great degree of stress on his vocal cord while gutting through the tour. Kiefer has been rehabbing his pipes and is on a tour with Cinderella, which stops Wednesday, June 23, at the House of Blues at Showboat in Atlantic City.
“I can’t imagine not singing,” Kiefer says. “It’s my passion. You don’t realize what you have until it may be taken away from you. I lived through some terrible experiences, but I’m just so thankful that I can sing.”
Kiefer, who has always accentuated the positive, continues to see the silver lining in the clouds. While recovering from surgery and rehabbing in Nashville, he has witnessed the development of his son, who was born six years ago.
“It’s been amazing since I got to experience so many of the benchmarks that a child hits,” Kiefer says. “That wouldn’t have happened if I was on the road. A lot of guys in bands hardly see their kids because you’re always going from city to city. Surgery was no fun, but being home with my child was an experience I couldn’t put a price on. That was the upside of a pretty difficult experience.”
But Kiefer is making up for some lost time.
“I’ve always enjoyed being out on the road,” Kiefer says. “I remember how much I loved it when this band started out and that hasn’t changed one bit. It’s as exciting as it’s ever been.”
The band, which also includes guitarist Jeff LeBar, bassist Eric Brittingham and drummer Fred Coury, still gets on very well. Perhaps that has something to do with the act’s longevity.
“We were all there from way back when [during our heyday],” Kiefer says. “I think that has something to do with how well we get along. We’re like brothers. We have that connection onstage. We know what each of us will do from playing for such a long time together. It’s amazing that we’re the same guys who were playing with each other all those years ago and we still step out onstage together. Not a lot of bands can say that. A lot of bands get torn apart due to some petty stuff, but we’ve persevered. We survived things like what went on with my voice, but I actually think we’re stronger because of all that.”
After a quarter century Cinderella and their Bon Jovi pals are still standing as many of their peers from the hedonistic ’80s are just a memory.
“It’s funny how things work out,” Kiefer says. “Bon Jovi has been good friends for so long. It’s great to see them do so well and then you have a lot of guys who couldn’t handle the excess or just changes in the music. And then there is our band, which has somehow survived. We’ve had our share of ups and downs, [but] It’s been an amazing run and the great thing is that we’re still standing.”
When: Wed., June 23, 8pm
Where: House of Blues at Showboat, A.C.
How Much: $35-$40
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