CINDERELLA (1983–PRESENT). Tom Keifer (vocals/guitar), Eric Brittingham (bass), Jeff LaBar (guitar), Fred Coury (drums).
An early winner in the hair metal sweepstakes of the 1980s, Cinderella did well, with a series of best-selling albums and MTV videos but should have had a more successful career due to their solid blues-rock roots and general songwriting talents of lead vocalist/guitarist Tom Keifer. With a style that combined the bluesy swagger of Humble Pie and AC/DC with a more pop-oriented sense of melody, the band had significant mainstream appeal. And in frontman Tom Keifer Cinderella had the best of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, a situation that was aptly demonstrated in concert and videos when the guitar-less singer would dramatically catch a guitar thrown by a roadie just in time to play a lead break without missing a beat.
Cinderella came together in 1983 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and developed an all-original act with Keifer as the main songwriter. In 1985 they were spotted performing in a nightclub by none other than Jon Bon Jovi, who told his A&R person about the band. The band was subsequently signed to Mercury Records and veteran producer/engineer Andy Johns was brought on board to produce the album. While session drummer Jody Cortez performed on the debut album, the band’s new permanent drummer, Fred Coury, joined in time to appear on the album jacket and to tour with the band. The album, Night Songs, was released in June of 1986. After a slow start, the album began to chart after the band had toured as a supporting act and had videos for “Shake Me” and “Nobody’s Fool” in rotation on MTV, and the album earned platinum status by the year’s end.
The band’s second album, Long Cold Winter, was released in July of 1988, and largely replicated the success of the band’s debut. Featuring the power ballad “Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Till It’s Gone)” and the rockers “Gypsy Road” and “The Last Mile,” the band continued to demonstrate a flair for melding seventies hard rock sensibility with eighties flash.
After taking a year off to record their third album, Heartbreak Station was released in November 1990. The album found the band expanding their sound by going further back into the seventies for inspiration and coming back with a somewhat rootsier sound. The lead-off single “Shelter Me” was a Stones-like rocker, from its title (reminiscent of “Gimme Shelter”) and intro of dobro slide guitar to the black female backup singers and honking sax solo. While the album initially did well, achieving gold status fairly quickly, it failed to reach the platinum status of its predecessors. Internally, the band faced its own set of problems, first when drummer Coury quit the band, and more seriously when Keifer suffered problems with his vocal cords that necessitated surgery and therapy.
By the time the band’s fourth album, Still Climbing, was released in late 1994, the grunge movement was in full swing, and the band’s style had gone out of fashion. After the album failed to chart significantly, Mercury dropped the band. In the aftermath, Keifer relocated to Nashville to work as a songwriter, managing to place songs with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Andy Griggs. Through the years, Cinderella has periodically re-formed to tour as part of package tours, most significantly in 2006 when they teamed with Poison for a tour to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of their respective debut albums.
Discography: Night Songs (Mercury, 1986); Long Cold Winter (Mercury, 1988); Heartbreak Station (Mercury, 1990); Live (Alex, 1991); Still Climbing (Mercury, 1994); Live at the Key Club (Cleopatra, 1999); In Concert (Cleopatra, 2004).