Ozzy Osbourne's Infamous Bat Bite

Music | October 12, 2021

Few musicians can match Osbourne's craziness at his peak.(vintagenews)

The list of outrageous stage acts could fill libraries. But Ozzy Osbourne’s bat-eating stunt of 1982 lords above the rest. The former member of Black Sabbath shocked the world when he decapitated a bat with nothing but his teeth. The bat incident occurred during the Diary of a Madman Tour at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa. Rolling Stone ranked it No.2 on their list of ​​"Rock's Wildest Myths." So why did Osbourne eat the bat and how did it get on stage in the first place? Read on to find out.


Osbourne’s Macabre Animal Fascination

Osbourne’s morbid fascination with animals goes back to 1981 when Osbourne shocked CBS Records executives with a pair of live doves. As the story goes, "(I) pulled out one of these doves and bit its (expletive) head off. Just to shut her up. Then I did it again with the next dove, spitting the head out on the table. ... That's when they threw me out." Reportedly, Osbourne was to release the doves at the ending of the meeting, Vatican style but got bored. Apparently, that’s how the rocker dealt with tiresome meetings he felt were beneath him.

Two masters of publicity. (rockcelebritiesnet)

An Ozzy Osbourne Pie Fight

Osbourne found inspiration from Three Stooges style pie fights and applied his insane thinking for his tour. “I always liked those old movies where they had custard pie fights,” said Osbourne. “So it gave me this idea to throw, instead of pies, bits of meat and animal parts into the audience. I thought it was hilarious!”

So as part of the show, they would bring out a literal catapult and fire various varmint parts into the crowd. Eventually, the crowd began bringing their own animal ammunition. As he remembered, “Someone threw this frog on stage. It was the biggest frog I’ve ever seen in my life and it was lying on its back.”

The bating biting heard around the world. (iheartradio)

Jan. 20, 1982, Des Moines, Iowa

Fast forward to the fateful night when 17 year old Mark Neal brought a dead bat to Osbourne’s show. Once Neal paid his respects by throwing its carcass on stage, the rocker supposedly made a critical misidentification. As the rocker recalled:

“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. 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.”

It’s unclear what Neal expected to happen but it sure wasn’t Osbourne taking its head off, as he told the Iowa Register in 1982. "It really freaked me out. I won't get in any trouble for admitting this, will I?" For Osbourne was less dramatic, “It was crunchy,” he later told a reporter.

Never afraid to cash in, Osbourne continues to make a buck off his "wicked" ways. (ultimateclassicrock)


However, after Osbourne realized it was real, the implications hit him. “Bats are the biggest carriers of rabies in the world. I had to go to hospital afterwards and they came and started giving me rabies shots. I had one in each rear, and I had to have that every night.”

Later on the musician regretted his action, placing blame on his ever rising bar of craziness. “It got to the point where people expected me to do crazier and crazier things. All I did was get out there and make a mistake of biting the head off a bat. And I tell you what guys, it ain’t fun when you get them rabies shots!” Nevertheless, in true rocker fashion, Osbourne managed to make some coin of the incident even decades later.

For the 37th anniversary of the bat biting, he tweeted, “Today marks the 37th Anniversary since I bit a head off a f***ing bat! Celebrate with this commemorative plush with detachable head.”

Tags: bat bite | Ozzy Osbourne

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Kellar Ellsworth


Kellar Ellsworth was born and raised in Hawaii. He is an avid traveler, surfer and lover of NBA basketball. He wishes he could have grown up in the free love era!