January 20, 1982 was a night that will go down in the historic annuals of rock and roll. That night Ozzy Osbourne escalated himself to the top of the heavy metal food chain after he bit the head off of what he thought was a rubber bat a fan had thrown onstage.
Only thing is, it wasn't a toy. It was the real thing.
That event happened in Des Moines, Iowa at Veterans Memorial Auditorium. He was in town in support of his Diary Of A Madman tour, which apparently wasn't just a hyped up album name. Already known as one of the craziest front men in rock, Ozzy was at the height of his drug problem when he rolled through central Iowa.
|Ozzy during the '80s, courtesy of the Associated Press|
Neal tossed the bat onto the stage and upon seeing it, Ozzy picked it up and bit it's head off. The rest is history. After the show, Ozzy - in his tour bus - was rushed to Broadlawns Medical Center to get shots for rabies.
In 2004 Rolling Stone magazine listed the incident as No. 2 on a list of "Rock's Wildest Myths." The article states that the bat was alive at the time of it's beheading, despite Neal's story to the contrary. In the booklet that accompanied the 2002 re-release of Diary of a Madman, Ozzy also claims that the bat was alive, and had even bitten him.
Some have called it, "The chomp heard 'round the world."
|Ticket No. 1 printed for the concert, courtesy of|
"I don't know how many times I had the manager's seats to the Civic Center for a ton of rock concerts," he added. Although he says he doubts he would ever sell the ticket stub, he wonders about it's worth among memorabilia collectors.
The following is a brief recollection of the events of the night according to Matt and a few of his friends.
Matt: It says on my concert poster that UFO opened up for Ozzy. I've seen UFO several times but I didn't remember them being together?
Curt Buchmeier: Opening band, I believe, was called "After The Fire" from Australia. Someone in the band was related to the Youngs of ACDC, I heard. Lead singer mispronounced Des Moines and the crowd began yelling and throwing things onstage, which carried over into the Ozzy show. It was general seating yet somehow, the Newton crowd assembled in the balcony off stage-right. This was before cell phones. I do NOT recall anyone at or after the show saying that Ozzy bit a bat. That info wasn't common knowledge 'til it was in the Des Moines Register the next day. It was a school night also. Those days are gone - never will my kids attend a concert - Ozzy concert no less!, with a bunch of their friends on a school night, with a foot of snow on the ground and snowing without parental supervision. Far and away one of the best concert experiences of my youth. Randy Rhoads was amazing and I couldn't wait to get to my band's rehearsal the next evening. We learned "Crazy Train" and "Iron Man" that week.
Shannon Spiess: Ozzy had a great Gothic stage for that concert. Randy Rhodes was awesome. The midget stole the show. Buchmeier is right, the opening band was After the Fire.
Matt: I was right down front before joining Curt and everyone. A guy in the crowd had the bat and was holding it up to Ozzy. Ozzy either said "is that a bat I want to meet?" or perhaps it was "I want to eat that f'n bat!" The guy threw it on stage, Ozzy picked it up and bit the head off. We couldn't tell if it was real or rubber or dead or alive. Ozzy was also letting doves loose which I believe were all found dead later. All a little foggy. Ozzy was kicking the dwarf over and then hung him in effigy. Randy Rhoads was amazing. Crazy show!
|Flyer handed out during the show. |
Note different opening band
(Photo courtesy of Jim McNeer)