How Ozzy Osbourne’s Bat-Biting Debacle Became a Rock Legend

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“I will not get in any hassle for admitting this, will I?”

Mark Neal had good cause to ask that query when he confessed to The Des Moines Register that he had thrown a useless bat onstage at Ozzy Osbourne‘s Jan. 20, 1982, present on the Veterans Memorial Auditorium throughout his Diary of a Madman tour. All hell broke unfastened when the rocker sank his tooth into the winged mammal and ripped off its head, giving 5,000-some followers a spectacle they’d always remember.

The then-17-year-old Neal could not have recognized it on the time, however his ill-thought-out stunt would turn out to be one of the vital notorious tales in rock historical past, cementing the Prince of Darkness’ fame as a world-class degenerate and leading to a lot of rabies photographs within the weeks that adopted.

To his credit score, Osbourne thought he was biting right into a rubber bat on that fateful evening in Des Moines, although he shortly found that wasn’t the case. “For a begin, my mouth was immediately filled with this heat, gloopy liquid, with the worst aftertaste you might ever think about,” he wrote in his 2009 memoir I Am Ozzy. “I may really feel it staining my tooth and working down my chin.”

Osbourne was no stranger to munching on winged creatures, having bitten the heads off two live doves throughout a March 1981 assembly with CBS Information. The Diary of a Madman tour additionally featured Osbourne’s “private dwarf” John Edward Allen, who tossed uncooked meat into the gang and was ceremoniously hanged each evening.

This onstage depravity impressed audiences to carry sordid props. “We had useless cats, birds, lizards, every kind of stuff. With each gig, it simply acquired crazier and crazier,” Osbourne wrote. “Ultimately folks began to throw issues onstage with nails and razor blades embedded in them — joke-shop stuff, primarily, like rubber snakes and plastic spiders.”

It solely made sense for Neal and his pal Carmen Kelly to smuggle a bat into the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. Neal’s youthful brother had discovered the bat two weeks earlier than the live performance, and Kelly satisfied him to retailer it within the freezer till they might ship it to the singer. Regardless of Osbourne’s claims that the bat wriggled in his mouth, Neal and Kelly each insisted it was useless.

“It landed in entrance of Rudy Sarzo, the bass participant,” Neal informed the Register. “He appeared down at it and motioned to Ozzy and, as they are saying, the remaining is historical past.”

Neal admitted that the ordeal “actually freaked me out,” however he was most likely much less rattled than Osbourne, who was rushed to the hospital for rabies photographs after the present and continued receiving them over the subsequent a number of weeks. “Each evening for the remainder of the tour I needed to discover a physician and get extra rabies photographs: one in every arse cheek, one in every thigh, one in every arm,” he lamented. “Each one harm like a bastard.”

The bat incident has turn out to be an inescapable a part of the Prince of Darkness’ mythology, for higher and for worse. Whereas Osbourne has lengthy grown weary of answering journalists’ questions in regards to the stunt, it additionally turned an integral a part of his merchandise and iconography, due to his savvy spouse and supervisor Sharon Osbourne. “You understand, Ozzy has actually lived a charmed journey,” Sarzo informed Yahoo Music in 2022.

“Ozzy would do one thing, and Sharon could be proper behind him to spin it and save the day. Sharon knew instantly that she had a chance right here. She contacted Michael Jensen Communications, our publicist, and he or she spun it. She spun the ‘fable’ that it’s at the moment. I noticed it occur, proper in entrance of my eyes: her getting on the telephone, calling Michael Jensen and saying, ‘Hey, hear, this occurred. Let’s make a narrative out of this.'”

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