One animal beheading can perhaps be put down to an accident, but once you re-offend, well, frankly you’re a downright beheading fiend. This is the tale of the many beheadings of Ozzy Osbourne, the Prince of Darkness who Satan’s winged minions have ensured is barred from the gates of hell.
Everyone knows the tale of his famed Des Moines bat beheading, but it is one riddled with incredulities so let’s start by sifting through the myths and try to snatch some semblance of fact amid the mayhem. On January 20th, 1982, at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium a 5000 strong crowd witnessed the former Black Sabbath frontman scoop up a bat and chow down on its noggin.
The bat, contrary to popular belief, was most certainly not alive. How the hell could it be? It would fly off! A dead bat is far easier to fling. Sadly, for Ozzy, Mark Neal, the bat flinger in question, has stated that if anything it was a little bit past dead and moving on to the stage of becoming decayed matter.
Neal popped his deceased house pet (not sure how it is possible to have a bat as a house pet, but there are too many questions to answer to get hung up on that one) into a sandwich bag, concealed it in his leather jacket and headed off to watch the progenitor of heavy metal unleash hell. He flung the bat on stage and Ozzy assumed it was some sort of toy.
Naturally, therefore, his reaction was to simply put the miscellaneous toy flung at him into his mouth. Who wouldn’t? Seemingly he didn’t notice something was amiss until he was showing down on the mammalian cranium. Ozzy would later describe this as like tucking into a Crunchie wrapped in shammy leather. Such visceral poetry provides an exacting texture that hopefully none of us will have to endure. In fact, why would we?
He then proceeded to finish the performance like the consummate hungry pro. Then when the curtain fell, he was rushed off to the hospital to receive rabies shots at the Broadlands Medical Centre. The stunned audience spread the story like wildfire and the rest is history.
However, you dig a little further into the history books and you find that there was perhaps an even more disturbing portent that occurred long before. A year earlier in March 1981, his decapitating ways began, with not one dove, but two!
The incident arose when the recently solo star was giving a rousing talk to Epic Records in celebration of the great work they were doing to launch the second chapter of his story. It had been Sharon’s [Arden] Osbourne’s idea for him to give the speech and Ozzy decided to load it with a bit of added pizzazz. “[Sharon] arranged for [Ozzy] to give a short speech, lauding the efforts of the company workforce in the lead-up to the U.S. release of Blizzard of Ozz,” Mick Wall writes in his book Symptom of the Universe.
Continuing: “The piece de resistance was to have Ozzy ending his speech by releasing three white doves into the gathered audience of [label] higher-ups and worker bees.” The issue was that Ozzy had downed a bottle of brandy at the convention and had taken a disliking to the feathery bastard symbols of peace.
Osbourne later told Wall, “I just remember this PR woman going on and on at me. In the end, I said, ‘Do you like animals?’ Then I pulled out one of these doves and bit its f—ing head off. Just to shut her up,” I’m sure it worked!
Ozzy continues: “Then I did it again with the next dove, spitting the head out on the table, and [the woman] fell on the floor screaming. That’s when they threw me out. They said I’d never work for CBS again.” Sensing an opportunity amid the wreckage of his reckless career, Sharon decide that she would launch him as the blood and guts poster boy of all things headless, almost like a reverse Morrissey.
His very first run-in, however, was with a head of a different kind, yes, we’re talking about Bill Ward’s (ahem) manhood. Osbourne revealed the coke-fuelled prank he attempted to pull on Ward whilst they were urinating next to one other, saying this to Rolling Stone some years later: “I see this aerosol can and squirt his dick with it. He starts screaming and falls down. I look at the can and it says, WARNING: DO NOT SPRAY ON SKIN – HIGHLY TOXIC. I poisoned Bill through his dick!” Fortunately, Ward was one of the lucky ones who made it out of the hospital with both heads intact.