The group was formed in 1982 by bass guitarist Eric Brittingham and singer/keyboardist/guitarist Tom Keifer. Drummer Tony Destra and guitarist Michael Shermick were also in the original lineup, but left to form Britny Fox in 1985. The band first garnered the interest of KISS bassist Gene Simmons, who tried to get them a deal with Polygram Records. However, the group declined. Jon Bon Jovi was impressed by Cinderella after witnessing one of their shows at the Empire Rock Club in Philadelphia. He got a hold of his A&R representative Derek Shulman. Shulman wasn’t convinced at first, but eventually signed them to a six month development deal with Mercury/Polygram Records. After the deal was signed, drummer Jim Drnec and guitarist Jeff LaBar joined the band.
Drnec was replaced by New Jersey native Albie Barker once their debut album was completed. Night Songs debuted in August 1986, and went on to sell over three million copies. Fred Coury was hired as the band’s new drummer and appeared in all of their music videos and tours. The new band went on the road for two years in support of the record, opening for artists such as Poison, Loudness, David Lee Roth and Bon Jovi.
The band’s sophomore release, Long Cold Winter, debuted in May 1988. It took on more of a bluesy rock and roll sound, which fans adapted to easily. The group went on the road for another couple of years performing with Skid Row, Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne and other contemporary artists. Their third album, Heartbreak Station, came out in November 1990 and continued with the blues theme from their previous record. Following the tour for the record, drummer Fred Coury left to join Ratt singer Stephen Pearcy’s new group Arcade.
The following year, Keifer underwent surgeries to repair both a hemorrhage and a vocal cyst. This delayed the completion of the band’s fourth album until 1994. Still Climbing came out in November that year, with Kenny Aronoff on drums. Unfortunately, it was the band’s least successful record to date, which caused Mercury Records to drop Cinderella. The group went on hiatus in 1995.
Cinderella resumed activities in 1996, and were signed to Sony Records in 1999. However, the group was later dropped by Sony before a studio album could be completed. This led to three years of complicated litigation from 2000 to 2002. Before the legal matters, Mercury Records released a greatest hits record entitled Once Upon A… in 1997 and the band’s first live album, Live At The Key Club was released in 1999 via Cleopatra Records.
The band resumed touring in 2005, joining Firehouse, Ratt and Quiet Riot. Mercury released another compilation album, Rocked, Wired and Bluesed: The Greatest Hits on DVD and CD in 2006. Cinderella was all set to tour with Lynch Mob and Warrant in 2008, until it was announced that Keifer’s left vocal cord had hemorrhaged. He would not be able to sing again until the following year. The group continued touring in 2009, and the lineup of Keifer, LaBar, Brittingham and Coury went on to open for Poison frontman Brett Michaels in 2010. Cinderella went on to perform several festival, cruise and worldwide tour dates through 2013.
Cinderella’s music has been part of the soundtrack for many hair metal and hard rock fans for decades. Here are ten of their most beloved songs;
# 10 – Bad Seamstress Blues/Falling Apart at the Seams
The first song from Long Cold Winter begins with Keifer on acoustic slide guitar. If you pay attention, you’ll hear a few bars on harmonica and a playful bass drum stamp before the eclectic tones kick in. One of the first blues rock songs by Cinderella, it sets a great tone for the rest of the album.
# 9 – Hot and Bothered
Released on the soundtrack for the first Wayne’s World movie, this song was one of Cinderella’s last hits in the 90’s. An easy song to sing that ranks with their other more catchy tracks, It even spawned a music video starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey playing the lead characters from the movie.
# 8 – Heartbreak Station
The title song from Cinderella’s third album is one of their best-known ballads. The slow piano intro begins just like a train slowly sliding into the station. A great song about a lamented lost love that most listeners can instantly relate to.
# 7 – The More Things Change
The song’s theme “the more things change, the more they stay the same” is still relevant today. The Heartbreak Station track talks about the importance of fighting for what you want. A great theme that many artists of their era have taken to heart, as they fight to stay relevant among the grunge movement and nu-metal bands that followed.
# 6 – The Last Mile
This track became the second single off of Long Cold Winter. It peaked at #36 on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1989. The tune describes an unraveling journey towards finding contentment and peace. It encompasses the determination that Cinderella had in their heyday as they persevered through lineup changes and Keifer’s vocal issues.
# 5 – Shelter Me
Most people may remember this song from the mouth organ intro. Others may remember the tongue in cheek lyrics rather fondly. It was the first single from 1990’s Heartbreak Station and Also cracked the Billboard top 100 singles chart. A fun reminder about how we all need something to depend on to get us through life’s difficult days.
# 4 – Coming Home
Best known for its power chord opening and Keifer’s soulful lyrics, Coming Home became a top 20 hit for Cinderella in the United States. The song from Long Cold Winter was one of the group’s first-ever bluesy power ballads. It could be construed as a love letter to the wives, girlfriends and significant others of the members of the group, reminding them that they would be back in their arms again very soon.
# 3 – Gypsy Road
Traveling has been a common theme in many of Cinderella’s songs. “Gypsy Road” is no different. Released as one of the last singles from Long Cold Winter in 1989, you may recall the music video which was filmed in the Yucatan of Mexico in one of the world’s most beautiful villages. A great traveling and road trip song for many fans of the band.
# 2 – Nobody’s Fool
The second song from Cinderella’s first record Night Songs became an instant hit in the United States and Canada. It peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles and #25 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks in 1987. The music video picks up right where the video for “Shake Me” left off. The featured girl follows the band members around before running home before midnight, where her rocker outfit transforms into an ordinary dress. A modern fairytale befitting the band’s namesake character.
# 1 – Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)
Cinderella’s most popular song was a hit in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The popular ballad from Long Cold Winter peaked at #12 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Featuring Keifer on vocals, keyboards and guitar, the track expresses remorse for lost love, stating that we don’t really appreciate a good thing until it’s too late.
Keifer has been busy writing, recording and performing as a solo artist since 2013. He has stated that Cinderella will never re-group, citing too many personal issues within the band, but time will tell if they reunite once again. They penned many chart hits during their heyday in the late 80’s and early 90’s, songs that fans still love and admire today. Lifelong fans have introduced younger generations to Cinderella’s music, creating even more admirers for one of the best glam/hair metal bands of all-time.
Updated Nov 12, 2020