Legend has it that a Rock ’N’ Roll star bit off the head of a live bat on-stage. Who did that? And why?
I’d always heard it was Alice Cooper. And that would make sense. His stage show during the 1970’s featured fake blood and decapitations. His own decapitation. With a guillotine. Haunted themes. Snakes. Yeah, that would make sense. The only problem is it wasn’t him.
Ozzy Did It!
No, the truth is it was Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath. It happened on 20 January 1982 at a concert in Des Moines, Iowa, in front of 5,000 fans. During one number, a fan tossed a bat onto the stage. Thinking it was rubber, Ozzy bit its head off as a stunt (keep in mind this was a time in his life with some pretty heavy drug use). The only problem was it was real. And alive. Ozzy even claims it bit him in the process. Once the show was over, he was rushed to Broadlawns Medical Center for rabies shots.
Wow! What a story! Except that not all of it is true. Ozzy did bite the head off a bat tossed on the stage. But, the bat was already dead. Quite dead, in fact, according to Mark Neal, aged 17 at the time, who tossed the bat on stage. Neal’s younger brother caught the bat several weeks before the Black Sabbath concert. They tried to keep it alive as a pet, but that failed. So, several of his friends convinced him to keep the carcass and toss it on the stage. He put it in a baggie, hid it inside his coat to get it into the show, then took it out before tossing it on stage.
Through the years, enough people have heard the story with Alice Cooper doing the biting, like me originally, that the two singers have become somewhat confused in the public’s mind regarding the bat. Alice is quick to point out some of the differences between the two. Like his wearing makeup and women’s clothing on stage, along with some haunted-house sets with his own fake decapitation. And that he’s never even been to the Alamo, much less pissed on it. Or snorted a line of live ants. Ozzy doesn’t understand the confusion either. When asked about it, the mad Englishman once responded “I don’t own any bloody snakes.”
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