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Cinderella’s Tom Keifer Has Faced The End of His Career And Persevered To Come Out Singing

Fundraiser Tom Keifer
(Photo Courtesy of Crash/B102.7)

The 1980’s got a bad rap for a lot of years with so many bands being grouped under the ‘glam rock’ umbrella, but one of the bands that stood out was Cinderella. Their singer and songwriter, Tom Keifer was always trying to think ahead instead of being caught in the moment and the excesses of the decade. Keifer told me that even when they were on the road, instead of the parties, he was trying to concentrate on writing the next song and the next record.

Keifer is 53 now as he brings his solo band to Sioux Falls to play at RibFest at the WH Lyon Fairgrounds on Friday May 30 (Rick Springfield, Dee Snider and Stephen Pearcy are also on the bill that night) Pearcy told me about being influenced growing up by Led Zeppelin, Rod Stewart, and Janis Joplin and as he learned more about his idols, he wanted to find out who had influenced them which led him to discover Albert King and so many of the blues artists. Take a listen to some of those Cinderella records now, with the knowledge that Keifer is a blues fan. You can really hear it, can’t you?

Cinderella had great success in the 80s, selling over 15 million records world wide, but one day in the mid 90s, Tom woke up and couldn’t sing anymore. Nothing. Something he’d been doing since he was just a kid and had brought him success was gone.

Keifer still sounds shaky when talking about an event now almost 20 years ago when a doctor told him that he’d never sing again. What would you do? The same thing he did. Search for answers.

But over two years went by and numerous doctors with no answer as to why it had happened. He didn’t have the normal nodes on his vocal cords that were causing paralysis. After two YEARS of searching for answers and doctor after doctor, one smart physician decided to test Keifer for neurological disorders. Bingo. He finally had an answer, but there isn’t a surgery that can be done or a medicine prescribed to fix it.

He was told that if he ever hoped to sing again, he would have to ‘re-train’ his paralyzed vocal cord to work again. Keifer says he went to every vocal coach and specialist in the country and worked with the top people in their fields, and continues to work with them because he lost his ability to sing again several years ago.

In 2010, he was finally able to get back on a stage and talked about the jitters he had playing with Cinderella at the Grizzly Rose, a bar in Denver, after several years of not being able to sing. The crowd’s response and cheers were the fuel he needed to continue to work. He told me it’s like working out in a gym. The vocal exercises are things that he has to do every single day, several hours a day, even on show days, to ensure that he can continue to sing and put on the shows that we remember seeing now almost 30 years ago.

Keifer recently released his solo debut titled ‘The Way Life Goes’. It really is an extension of Cinderella’s music, which makes sense since he is the singer, songwriter and guitarist for both. Keifer says his show here in Sioux Falls will consist of about half new songs and half Cinderella classics. He says the tour has been going so well that they are planning on touring all summer including a set at Rocklahoma Memorial Day weekend opening for Kid Rock in addition to the anticipated RibFest show here in Sioux Falls May 30th.

This is the second time this year I’ve had the good fortune to talk to Tom and he’s a humble, soft-spoken, and I can use the word ‘grateful’ rock star who has worked his ass off to continue to do what he was born to do. I think it’s a lesson we can all learn that nothing is given to us and it’s something we have to work at always. His perseverance is certainly inspirational. And after seeing him sing in Las Vegas at the Fundraiser for the Brennan Rock and Roll Academy in December, I can confidently tell you that Tom Keifer is definitely back!

If you loved the music of the 80s from Cinderella, Twisted Sister, Ratt and Rick Springfield, Friday night May 30th is your night for RibFest. Advance tickets for just that night are only $15. Or you can get a full weekend pass (May 29-June 1) for just $30.

The 17th annual RibFest is definitely going to be one for the books!

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