This article is from the The Osbourne FAQ, by Mike L. with numerous contributions by others.
While the bat incident which still haunts Oz's reputation to this day can
be called an accident, the incident with the dove can be called stupidity.
Here is the story: After leaving Black Sabbath, Ozzy was rejected by many
record labels. Tony Martell, CBS records executive, signed Ozzy to a
contract. Ozzy and wife Sharon were being introduced to the head executives
of CBS records in Los Angeles (Guitar Magazine claims it was New York).
CBS was not too interested in Ozzy because they had just signed Adam Ant.
Ozzy was just another album to them, and they were not interested in the
person behind the music. Sharon decided it would be a
good publicity stunt for Ozzy to walk into the office and throw two doves
up into the air.
The stunt worked, and made CBS pay attention to Ozzy. It also made the
nation pay attention to Ozzy as well: After throwing one dove up in
the air, Ozzy bit the head off of the other one. It is not known
whether Sharon intended for Ozzy to actually bite the dove's head off
or not. Ozzy has already admitted he (not surprisingly) had drunk a
bottle of booze beforehand. Make no mistake about it, Sharon Osbourne
is a shrewd marketer and I wouldn't put any dirty trick past her. What
follows is an interview with an eyewitness (from Epic) who saw the
Q: What happened?
A: It was a normal Thursday morning marketing meeting down in the
conference room. It was just prior to the release of Ozzy's first solo
album. His management and Jet Records, which is the associated label that
puts out his albums, had arranged for him to pay a little surprise visit to
us, to say "Hi, my name is Ozzy Osbourne, and let's make this record a
Q: Is it unusual for the artist to come to a marketing meeting?
A: No, they seldom do. We've had people from time to time just come in.
Their manager arranges for them to drop by and say, "Surprise!" just to
push the album.
Q: Then what happened?
A: He walked in with Sharon, who later became his wife, and [withheld] from
Jet Records. They introduced Ozzy all around, and there was a photographer
with them. They sat him down on the arm of a chair, and he pulled a dove
out of his pocket. I looked at it and thought, "Gee how cute!"
Q: It was a live dove?
A: I'm ninety-nine and nine-tenths sure it was alive, but now I can't say
for sure. I remember I was leaning forward and thinking, "How cute," and
suddenly he bites its head off. There was blood on the floor. I think he
ate the head; he started spitting some feathers out. I was in shock. It's
hard to remember too much after that, to tell you the truth. It was
Q: What was the reaction of the people in the room?
A: There was a stunned silence, and they got him out of there, fast. It was
just very quiet-not a good reaction, I would say. People were going,
"Yucch!". Some looked as though they thought it was a fake bird, that it
was all just a publicity stunt. And others said "No, it's a real bird and
what a horrible thing to do." Personally, I thought it was an awful thing
to do even if it was a fake bird. Sharon called up afterward and sort of
Q: Do you think it was her idea all along?
A: Oh, I know it was. I said to her, "He's not mad, just desperate for
Q: Did it work? Did he get the publicity?
A: I don't think it worked in getting Epic Records to take notice, but I
think it did work as far as getting the kids to take notice. When the story
leaked out, with photos and all, it got around everywhere. I'm sure Sharon
was calling columns all over the country. That sort of became the Ozzy
legend, that and all the other things he did afterwards.
Q: Sharon said that Epic wasn't taking any notice of Ozzy before this
A: I feel that people were already aware of Ozzy, prior to the meeting. My
impression was certainly that he was a major artist we were going to be
working with. I doubt if it changed our impression one way or the other,
although I could be wrong. Obviously, he went on to great success, and
maybe that was part of the reason, but who am I to say?
Q: So it was all definitely planned in advance?
A: Definitely. It was not a spontaneous act. He just didn't walk in and
happen to find a dove hanging out in the CBS reception area and say, "Gee,
I'll take this in with me in case I get hungry and they don't have coffee
and doughnuts." It was right in his jacket pocket. Come to think of it, he
had two of them. That was it: he had two of them, one in each pocket. He
let the other one go afterwards. Everyone made him do it. He took the other
one out of his pocket and everyone screamed, "No, don't do it again!"
Q: Did the second one fly away? That would indicate the first one was
alive, wouldn't it?
A: Not necessarily. He might have had one live one and one fake one. It's
just all so hazy; I was so shocked.