It’s the 40th anniversary of the infamous moment when Ozzy Osbourne secured his place in rock ‘n roll history by biting the head off a bat.

The Prince of Darkness has many legendary stories but it’s difficult to top decapitating an animal onstage. On January 20th 1982, Ozzy utterly transformed a normal gig in Des Moines, Iowa when he bit the head off a bat. It became an unforgettable night for the 5,000 or so witnesses in the audience; it wasn’t such a good time for the poor bat.

“The name of the town of Des Moines is embossed in my head!” Ozzy told The Des Moines Register back in 2001, just before he returned to the concert venue for the first time. “I’ve had some mileage from Des Moines!” Three years later, Rolling Stone ranked the bat bite at number two on its list of Rock’s Wildest Myths.

How did it taste? “Immediately, though, something felt wrong. Very wrong,” Ozzy wrote in his memoir I Am Ozzy. “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.”

The story is a strange mixture of rumours. According to Mark Neal, the 17-year-old who threw the bat onstage, it was definitely dead before Ozzy got to it; Ozzy insisted that it was most definitely alive, though, and even managed to bite him. After the concert, he was rushed to a nearby hospital for rabies shots.

The bat bite has survived in rock lore and Ozzy has now updated it for the digital world: this month, he’ll be releasing 9,666 digital bats as NFTs. Each “Cryptobatz” has been unique designed from the wild mind of Ozzy himself, alongside NFT creator Sutter Systems.

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