This Day in Rock Music History: Jan. 20, 1982 – Ozzy Ozbourne and the Bat

Ozzy and Friends, Azkena Rock Festival 2012, Mendizabala, Vitoria-Gasteiz, 15/VI/2012. Foto por Dena Flows

It’s time for another round of This Day in Rock and Roll History, and boy, do we have a doozy of a story for you fine readers. It involves The Prince of Darkness himself, that’s right, the one and only Ozzy Osbourne!

The Day was January 20th, 1982

Ozzy was playing Vets Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, that fateful evening, and a 17-year-old named Mark Neal would help catapult Ozzy into the history books with what seemed like a harmless prank, but that turned into a bloody and disgusting decapitation.

“The name of the town of Des Moines is embossed in my head!” Osbourne told The Des Moines Register in November 2001, on the eve of his return to the auditorium for his first concert there since the incident. “I’ve had some mileage from Des Moines!”

The mileage he speaks of stems from the multitude of people that have told and retold the story since 1982. Despite my family living in Northern New York at the time, we knew of it, and there was no internet to immediately spread the story as it does now, yet we still heard the tale of Ozzy and his onstage meal.

The Story

While performing that evening, Ozzy happened to see what appeared to be a rubber bat on the stage floor, and he made a decision akin to an event in 1981 where he bit the head off of a live dove in an L.A. record execs office.

Scooping up the “rubber” bat, Ozzy stuck it in his mouth and bit the head off it! Much to his surprise, the bat was real and now bloodied in his mouth. Ozzy finished the show but was then whisked away to Broadlawns Medical Center for a series of rabies shots.

Now, you may be asking yourselves why someone would throw a dead bat onto the stage at any show, let alone the concert of someone who has a history of gnawing the heads off live animals. Well, thanks to an article posted on the website of the Des Moines Register, I have those answers for you.

Mark Neal was a 17-year-old Ozzy fan and attended the show that night with friends.

“Neal’s younger brother had brought the bat home from school, alive and flapping, about two weeks before the concert. No surprise that the bat failed as a household pet. So Neal’s friends, aware of Osbourne’s carnivorous reputation, convinced the impressionable lad to seal the bat remains in a baggy and tuck them inside his coat.” (Des Moines Register, 2/27/2005)

The Aftermath

In October of 1982, months after this bizarre incident,

“Auditorium directors had decided “to prohibit concert performers from using, presenting or in any way making live animals a part of a program at Vets without the consent of management.”

As far as with Ozzy himself, he had to go through painful rabies shots and 41 years’ worth of fans’ and interviewers’ questions about what happened that night, and he’ll be getting them until the day he departs this world.

This article was written by Tom Hanno, who has been writing reviews for the last 7 years but has been sharing his love of music for the majority of his life. Originally starting out at the now defunct Chimera Magazine, he is currently contributing to Doomed and Stoned, The Sleeping Shaman, The Doom Charts, Tom’s Reviews, and The Third Eye. Read more of Tom’s reviews by checking out his Linktree.

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