Riding the wave of the Hair Band era of the late 1980s, Philadelphia rockers Cinderella found themselves opening for Poison, David Lee Roth and Bon Jovi and making regular appearances on MTV as well as American Top 40 with Casey Kasem.
Indeed, powered by such hits as "Shake Me" and "Nobody's Fool," not to mention their uber-ballad "Don't Know What You Got (Until It's Gone)", Cinderella chalked up an impressive six Top 40 singles between 1986 and 1990 while their first three albums -- Night Songs, Long Cold Winter and Heartbreak Station -- went triple platinum, triple platinum and platinum, respectively.
Thanks to the unmistakably screechy, yet bluesy vocals of lead singer Tom Keifer, who comes to the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury on Feb. 16 for a solo show, the band's future seemed limitless.
Yet, as quickly as Cinderella came into the national consciousness, they disappeared. And when sales of their fourth and final studio album, 1994's Still Climbing, in fact, sputtered, the band seemingly disappeared.
The obvious culprit would be the grunge movement that propelled Nirvana into the spotlight, but that would be rewriting history in this case.
"I was diagnosed with a neurological condition (paresis of the vocal cords) in 1991 which caused the delay before we released Still Climbing," Keifer told me in a recent phone interview from his home in Nashville.
"I didn't know what was wrong with my voice. Doctors didn't know. There was nothing on the polyps and cords. They ran a neurological test and the good news there was nothing going on with my vocal cords, but the bad news was I couldn't sing again. I had to retrain my voice. I've had to work with speech pathologists. It's a daily battle. I've had ups and downs with it. I'm grateful I can still do it and I will continue to try to sing as long as I have a breath in my body."
If you're wondering what keeps Keifer pushing forward, and why he's doing a solo show at Blue Ocean Music Hall, he's been working on a solo record since the band's initial mid-90s breakup. "A lot of things pushed it back," Keifer says of The Way Life Goes, the solo album which will finally be released April 30.
Mercury Records dropped the band from its label when Keifer had vocal problems, leading to the band going on hiatus in 1995. "The idea of a solo record came to me so I moved to Nashville and spent a year working on it. We got an offer to reform from Sony so I immediately put the (solo album) on the back burner."
The group was signed to Sony Records in 1999, but that turned ugly when Sony dropped them before a new album could be released, leading to three years of litigation.
Keifer kept writing songs for the solo record and started working on it again in 2003. "I had a huge pile of songs to choose from. The delays from that point were really just getting it right. I never dreamed in a million years it would take 10 years, but we ran into roadblocks with mixing. The actual recording process went fairly easy, but making it sound like what I was hearing in my head was tougher."
His wife gave birth to their first child, a boy named Jaden, and Cinderella kept reforming for tours, and the solo record kept getting pushed aside.
But now it's ready for release and Keifer couldn't be happier about the record and the accompanying tour. "It's going to be a blast."
And for longtime Cinderella fans, have no fear. The band will be back together again soon. "Those guys have been my brothers for over 25 years. Last year's tour was not a farewell tour by any means."
Ed Hannan can be reached at edhannan@gmail. com or through his For the Record blog at blogs.lowellsun.com/for therecord.