The surviving members of CINDERELLA have commented on the passing of the band's guitarist, Jeff LaBar.
LaBar was found dead by his wife, Debinique Salazar-LaBar, on Wednesday inside his apartment in Nashville. He was 58 years old.
Vocalist/guitarist Tom Keifer, bassist Eric Brittingham and drummer Fred Coury issued the following statement Wednesday night: "Heavy hearts cannot begin to describe the feeling of losing our brother Jeff. The bond between us over decades of creating music and touring the world is something that we as a band uniquely shared. Those memories with Jeff will be forever alive in our hearts. It's unimaginable that one of our band brothers has left us.
"We're sending his wife Debinique, his son Sebastian, family, and friends our deepest condolences.
"Jeff's memory and music will be with us forever.
"We all — band, family and management — appreciate the overwhelming outpouring of love. Rest in peace, Jeff."
Although CINDERELLA hasn't released a new studio album since 1994's "Still Climbing", the band started playing sporadic shows again in 2010 but has been largely inactive for the last few years while Keifer focused on his solo career.
Back in 2016, LaBar accepted blame for CINDERELLA's prolonged period of inactivity, explaining that his "drinking problem" caused a rift between him and his bandmates. He told "Another FN Podcast With Izzy Presley": "I can only speculate, but I believe it's all my fault. It's no secret that I've had a drinking problem. And it showed its ugly face on one of those [cruises that CINDERELLA played]. I guess that's what caused a rift… When I fell out on one of those cruise ships in front of everybody — like, basically O.D.'d — that's when the band, and mostly Tom, took notice and was, like, 'What the fuck?'"
Asked if he was sober at the time of the interview, LaBar said: "No, I'm not. Which is the problem. Which is probably the problem. Like I said, I can only speculate, because I don't talk to the other guys anymore. I talk to Fred every now and then. Eric lives 20 minutes from me. We haven't talked lately, but Eric and I have been the most consistent of all my bandmates throughout the past 32 years. It's just Tom and I that don't talk anymore. And I can only speculate that he's very disappointed and doesn't wanna see me die. He doesn't wanna witness me dying."
LaBar went on to say that the touring lifestyle "fed [his] appetite for partying… all the way back to the '80s." He explained: "I have a history. It's not just these past issues. I have a history of drinking and cocaine… In the '80s, it was cocaine abuse. In the '90s, it was heroin. I went through every cliché phase that a rock star could go through. It just wasn't highly publicized. I was arrested, I went through rehab, I did all the things MÖTLEY CRÜE did. I just didn't publicize it. I was MÖTLEY CRÜE and GUNS N' ROSES all wrapped into one. As a band, we tried to hide our dirty laundry, and most of our dirty laundry was me. We didn't try to hide it; we just didn't publicize it. We just didn't tell people. 'Oh, yeah, Jeff's in rehab. Jeff's in jail. Jeff's in… whatever.' We just didn't publicize it. We actually kept it to ourselves. It was our family. It was our family business, and that's how we treated it."
Despite the fact that he hadn't spoken to Keifer for a couple of years prior to the "Another FN Podcast With Izzy Presley" interview, LaBar said that he didn't hold a grudge against his longtime friend and bandmate. "I understand why he doesn't return my calls, and I don't blame him," he said. "I understand. And hey, you know, he's been the major talent of CINDERELLA all this time, and he deserves to be solo. Not deserves to be solo, but, you know, it was inevitable for him to go solo. He's just one of those guys — lead singer, main songwriter. It's inevitable that he should go solo and basically dump [laughs], dump the dead weight."
Keifer told RockRevolt Magazine that "some issues" within the band — "going back decades" — had effectively sidelined the group for the past several years. He explained: "We took some pretty extreme measures to right the ship and fix things, and we made a pact as a band in 2012 that we would not do anything as a band until the issues were resolved. That's how much it came to a head. The issues are unresolved, so that's all I can say about that."