Cinderella had not recorded an album since 1994 but had continued to tour until a few years ago, at which point they irretrievably broke up, according to band members. LaBar’s Twitter account described his current status as a “culinary school student studying to become a chef.”
The musician’s son first shared news of the death on Instagram Wednesday. “So i just got the call… Jeff LaBar, my father, my hero, my idol, passed away today. I’m currently at a loss for words. I love you pop! … If you could, please share pictures or video of all the fun times we all had with my dad. It would be greatly appreciated.”
TMZ reported that LaBar’s first wife, Gaile LaBar-Bernhardt, told the outlet she had found the musician dead Wednesday inside his apartment in Nashville after no one had been able to reach him for several days.
“Heavy hearts cannot begin to describe the feeling of losing our brother Jeff,” former Cinderella band members Tom Keifer, Eric Brittingham and Fred Coury said in a joint statement. “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.”
LaBar was the second lead guitarist for Cinderella but joined by the time they recorded their debut album, 1986’s “Night Songs,” which rose to No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and was certified triple-platinum. It produced the band’s highest charting single, “Nobody’s Fool,” which made it to No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The group’s second album, “Long Cold Winter” in 1988, also made the album chart’s top 10 and was likewise certified for three million copies sold. A third release, 1990’s “Heartbreak Station,” went platinum. Popularity had waned by the time of the group’s recorded swan song, “Still Climbing,” which barely cracked the top 200 in 1994.
LaBar released a solo album, “One for the Road,” on a hard rock speciality label in 2014.
Even after the group stopped recording in the mid-’90s, it continued to tour on and off until as recently as 2015. But in 2017, Keifer said, “There’s been a lot of issues over the course of decades and build-up that is beyond repair at this point. So there won’t be any reunion.”
In 2016, LaBar admitted his part in the seemingly irreparable dispute, talking with “Another FN Podcast With Izzy Presley” about his struggles with addiction and inability at that time to achieve sobriety. “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?’” He said he was still in communication with some band members, but he and Keifer did not 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.”
Added LaBar in the interview, “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 Motley Crue did. I just didn’t publicize it. I was Motley Crue 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.”
Among those posting tributes was Michael Sweet of Stryper. “I’m deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of Jeff LaBar,” he wrote. “I had the honor of meeting Jeff multiple times when he would attend our shows in Nashville, Tn. He was always a gentleman and very kind and complimentary. He was always very supportive of our band and I’ve always viewed him as a great guy with a big heart. May God bless you Jeff and may God bless the LaBar family, friends and fans worldwide. Godspeed my friend.”
“Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends,” the Scorpions wrote in a statement.