Tom Kiefer
Photo by Tammy Vega

One of the most iconic images of the hair-metal era of the late 1980s is Cinderella’s Tom Keifer perched behind a grand piano on the beach, belting out the epic ballad “Don’t Know What You Got (Til It’s Gone).” Songs like that one, “Nobody’s Fool,” “The Last Mile,” and others helped propel each of Cinderella’s first two albums, “Night Songs” and “Long Cold Winter,” to triple-platinum status, making the band one of the most popular of its day.

And yet, despite the fact that the band indulged in all of the hairspray and outlandish outfits of the other hair-metal bands, there was always something different about its music. From Keifer’s feral cat growl of a voice to the straight-ahead pounding of songs like “Gypsy Road” or “Shake Me,” Cinderella seemed somehow more authentic than bands like Poison or Firehouse or Slaughter.

Keifer, a man of few words if ever there was one, agrees.

“I always thought of it as a rock ‘n’ roll band,” he says.

There’s plenty of evidence to back him up on that front. The follow-up to “Long Cold Winter,” 1990’s “Heartbreak Station,” was a lot more stripped-down rock than heavy metal pomp, and the hit single “Shelter Me” was a downright Stones-y rocker.

It would have been interesting to see how Cinderella navigated the grunge-music era, but after 1994’s ironically titled “Still Standing,” Keifer didn’t release any new music for almost 20 years. Keifer’s debut solo album, “The Way Life Goes,” broke the silence in 2013.

“There were a lot of reasons for the break between ‘Still Climbing’ and the first solo record,” Keifer says. “I had been having a lot of problems with my voice during that period. Add to that, Cinderella lost our deal with Mercury [Records]. When that happened, we all went in different directions.”

With those vocal problems doubtless still in the back of his mind, Keifer says he works hard to take care of his voice nowadays.

“I do a lot of vocal training even when I’m off of the road,” he says. “A few hours before the show, I start my warmup. It’s a little bit of a process that goes on up to showtime. Then immediately after the show, I do a cool down.”

Keifer reveals that there were actually tentative plans for a new Cinderella album after some successful touring in the early 2000s, but nothing ever came of those plans.

“We didn’t really break up, there was just no vehicle for our music at the time,” Keifer says. “After we had reunited for a few tours, there was a plan to make a record with Sony/Portrait [Records]. It ended up in a lawsuit and never happened. There really wasn’t a desire or opportunity after that until the solo record came about.”

Despite those setbacks, Keifer has persevered as a solo artist, prepping a new album called “Rise” for release and going on tour. That tour will bring him to The Firmament in Greenville this Friday night.

And yes, the set-list will be packed with Cinderella favorites.

“We play a lot of Cinderella songs, a couple of songs from ‘The Way Life Goes,’ and there are also songs from the new record, ‘Rise,’ that comes out Sept. 13,” he says.

Keifer says he still loves the songs he wrote for Cinderella, but he’s fond of his new material, as well.

“There are really songs on all of those records that I still love playing,” he says. “‘Shelter Me,’ ‘Don’t Know What You Got (Til It’s Gone),’ and ‘Long Cold Winter’ are some of my favorites that we’re doing on this tour. I also love what we’re playing from this new record, ‘Rise.’ The first single, ‘The Death of Me,’ is slamming live.”

What: Tom Keifer (of Cinderella) w/ Seven Year Witch
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9
Where: The Firmament, 5 Market Point Drive, Greenville
Tickets: $30-$300
Info.: 864-616-5101, https://www.firmamentgvl.com/

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