Unlike the hit song he wrote for Cinderella, Tom Keifer knew what he got even before it was gone – or on hiatus.
He actually wrote the power ballad “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” just as the glam rock band was making it big.
“I thought, ‘Life is amazing,’ ” said Keifer, who released the song on Cinderella’s second album “Long Cold Winter.” The song peaked in 1998 at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“It’s a long shot to get a lable to sign you and get their attention, and once you get that deal, it’s a long shot for them to even make your record,” he said. “We worked very hard in the beginning, but I guess it didn’t feel hard because you’re working hard at something you love doing.”
Keifer thought of this years ago as he wrote the power ballad while driving in the car to the studio. He thought, “What would it feel like if it all went away?”
It didn’t go away. Since the Philadelphia-rooted band’s discovery in 1985 by Jon Bon Jovi, Cinderella has sold more than 20 million albums.
Band members have continued to tour off and on throughout the past couple of decades and expect to do so again in the future. But for the past year, Keifer has toured with a solo band and has released a debut solo album “The Way Life Goes,” which includes the radio singles “The Flower Song” and “It’s Not Enough.”
“It’s a pretty kick-ass band,” he said of his solo band, slated to perform July 12 at Fiesta Days in McHenry.
“We do tons of the old Cinderella stuff and some of the new stuff. ... It’s pretty much what people would expect to see in a live show with Cinderella. There are some ballads and acoustics, but for the most part it just rocks.”
Keifer wrote exclusively many of Cinderella’s songs. But with his solo album, he said he collaborated and co-wrote with numerous artists, including his songwriter wife, Savannah Snow.
The two have a 10-year-old son, Jaidan, who wants to be a pro baseball player. That’s fine with Dad.
If he does pursue music, he – and anyone else with a passion for it – will succeed if they stay true to themselves, Keifer said.
“I just think you need to play from your heart and not chase trends and not try to be like anyone else,” he said. “I think every musician and songwriter has something unique inside of them. That’s what you need to find. Get really good at that, and you’ll be the next trend.”
Keifer said he sees many of the same fans drawn to Cinderella through the years, and he enjoys playing the old favorites.
“I listen to everything from Train to Bruno Mars to Halestorm. I love this new Imagine Dragons record,” he said.
Every decade brings new trends in music, he said, but the desire for hard rock will remain. It just comes in different packages.
“Rock and roll has always been powerful. Through the ’90s, there was a slightly different brand of rock,” he said. “To me, the biggest difference in the ’90s was the look more than anything. When you close your eyes and listen to the ’90s and ’80s, it’s slammin’ drums, loud guitar and a screaming singer. There are a lot of hard rock bands carrying on that traditon.”
And his is one of them.