‘Something felt very wrong’ – 40 years since Ozzy Osbourne bit the bat

The year is 1982 and Ozzy Osbourne had been cut loose from Black Sabbath for nearly three years after the rest of the band kicked him out over concerns about his reliability, drinking and drugs consumption.

That could have been it for a man who is now one of Birmingham’s favourite sons. But after his payout for leaving the band, Ozzy was pulled back into music by his old manager Rob Arden, starting a solo career that would soon lead to one of metal’s biggest anecdotes in 1982.

In 1981, he did a “dry” run of his arguably most controversial act.

Meeting with record executives alongside his wife Sharon, he took a pair of doves to release at a celebratory moment.

In a bizarre turn of events at a long, boring board meeting, Ozzy did something that didn’t help the accusations of his music being “Satanic”.

He took one of the doves, and bit its head clean off.

He spat the bird’s head out, teeth and chin glistening with blood – and then repeated the act in front of the shocked suits of the record label.

This is what Ozzy looked like that year - this picture is just three months after the bat incident.
This is what Ozzy looked like that year – this picture is just three months after the bat incident.

This proved to be just a practice run though, as a crowd of American fans would find out early in 1982.

Performing at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Iowa, USA, one teenager brought a bat.

Ozzy had made a habit of throwing animal parts at his audience, and they liked to return the favour, including raw chickens, live snakes and rats, and frogs.

The teenager threw the bat at Ozzy, who picked it up. In a moment of madness, he bit straight into it.

Ozzy’s memoir, I Am Ozzy, details what happened next.

”Immediately, though, something felt wrong. Very wrong. For a start, my mouth was instantly full of this warm, gloopy liquid, with the worst aftertaste you could ever imagine.

I could feel it staining my teeth and running down my chin.”

In a later interview, he said “Somebody threw a bat, I just thought it was a rubber bat.

I just picked it up and I put it in my mouth. I just f***ing bit into it, y’know, being the f***ing clown that I am.”

There are rumours that the bat was alive and unconscious, and had actually bitten Ozzy on stage.

Regardless of whether it was alive or dead at the time, Ozzy’s mid-show snack had put him at serious risk of contracting rabies, a deadly disease when transmitted to humans.

But several rounds of painful treatment let the rock star get back to doing what he does best – being one of the world’s greatest showmen.

Did you ever meet or see Ozzy Osbourne in the flesh? What stories do you have about the iconic frontman? Comment below, or talk to us on social media.

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