‘I Spent A Lot Of Time Trying To Sound Like John Bonham,’ Says Cherisse Osei

Cherisse Osei wanted to be an actress or dancer, but her parents’ interest in music sparked something in her mind — she started dreaming about becoming a musician. Back when she was in her first band, Cherisse met her rock god, John Bonham. Speaking to BBC Radio 2’s Shaun Keaveny, the drummer admitted she tried to imitate Bonham’s sound for a long time.

“I was in my first band when I was 13, and the guitarist in my band gave me a mixtape on cassette,” Osei said. “The first track was, strangely enough, ‘Whole Lotta Love’ by Led Zeppelin. I remember hearing it and instantly wanting to get behind my drum kit and start playing along. Bonham just sounded like he was having the best time, and his drumming has made such a big impression on me.”

She then recalled, “The track that I was really obsessed with was ‘Good Times Bad Times’ from Led Zeppelin’s first album. The offbeat Latin rhythm Bonham plays on the cowbell in the intro is just brilliant. I spent a lot of time trying to sound like Bonham, and it made me want to take more chances with my playing. I never got the chance to see Bonham live or meet him due to the fact that he passed away before I was born, but I did get to play my favorite song, ‘Good Times Bad Times’ at a charity, Remo Drummer Night in 2010.”

Recalling her encounter with Jason Bonham, Cherisse continued, “I went to play the song, and I looked over to my right-hand side, and Jason Bonham, John Bonham’s son, is standing at the side of the stage, watching me. I was like, ‘Oh, no!’ I thought, ‘Okay, don’t look up at him while you’re playing it,’ but I was thinking, ‘What luck is that? I’m about to play this song, and his son is there.’ I looked over afterward, and he gave me a big, really big smile, a nod, and a thumbs up. I was like, ‘Okay; I must have done okay!’”

Osei started playing in bands when she was pretty young. Thanks to one of her bandmates, she got the chance to meet Led Zeppelin and, thus, John Bonham. The late musician’s energetic drumming style and sense of rhythm inspired Cherisse for years, and it appears like she tried a lot to sound like her musical hero. So, getting Jason Bonham’s approval probably meant so much to her.