Musings On Music History: In Which Ozzy Bites A Bat, Marky Pulls His Pants, and Eddie Just Plain Erupts

01.20: You might look at Ozzy Osbourne these days and think he’s pretty tame, that he wouldn’t harm a fly. But this is the Ozzy of the new millennium. This is the Ozzy of reality show fame/infamy, the Ozzy of cell phone commercials and marble-mouthed mumbles. It wasn’t so long ago that many considered Ozzy a very dangerous man. Parents’ groups denounced him as Satanic, saying that he wrote and performed music that made people want to kill themselves. His drug use and alcoholism didn’t put him in many people’s good graces, either, especially when he tried to strangle his wife, when he was arrested for urinating on the Alamo while wearing a dress, or when he went on a rampage and shotgunned all the family pets. Suffice it to say, most animal rights groups didn’t take kindly to many of Ozzy’s antics. Once, he bit a dove’s head off during a meeting at his record company. What was a dove doing at the meeting, you ask? Well, Ozzy and Sharon, his wife, had planned on releasing a couple doves as a symbol of something or other, but Ozzy felt that their gesture of good will didn’t receive the attention from the execs he was looking for. So, instead of just letting it go, he grabbed a bird and bit down, forever scarring some poor, innocent record company suits. Which brings us to this day in 1982, to a concert in Des Moines, Iowa, when Ozzy bit the head off another animal. This incident wasn’t quite as blatant as the dove lunch he’d enjoyed, but, during the concert, someone tossed a bat onto the stage. Ozzy thought it was a rubber toy, so he did what any sane, head-biting person would do and bit its head off. Unbeknownst to him, until right after the bat bit him as he was biting it, the bat was real. Another animal fell to the power of the Mad Man. Some claim the bat was dead when it was tossed on stage, but Ozzy insists it was alive. We’re not so sure of this because wouldn’t it fly away after it’d been tossed, if it were alive? We’re just sayin. Anyway, the Ozzman cometh and he is hungry, people. Lock up the cats, hide the birds, and don’t make any sudden moves. That mumble-mouthed old rocker isn’t as harmless as he appears. [more]

01.23: On this day in 1953, Robin Zander, lead singer of the cheapest trick in all the land, Cheap Trick, was born. Actually, they’re not that cheap. They owned the airwaves in 1979, with their still very catchy, and somewhat pleading, song “I Want You To Want Me.” You’ve heard it, you know it, you love it. Admit it, you’ve actually tried to pick up someone with that song, singing it as you pass them in the hallway at school or the office, hoping they’d pick up on your awesomeness. No? Just us? Oh, well, that doesn’t diminish our love for Cheap Trick, for their late ’70s porn-stache, their wavy and pretty hair, and their general disregard, even for the times, of all things cool. We think that’s why we like them so much. Cuz they just don’t care. All they want is for you to want them. That’s what we all just want, though, isn’t it?

01.25: Mark Wahlberg felt the wrath of litigious action on this day in 1994. Why is Mark Wahlberg in the Musings, you might wonder? Well, before his days as a movie star, he lived the life of a pop star, as the remarkably untalented Marky Mark. Remember? Yeah, we try to forget, too, but those sounds and images are burned into our brains, stained on our retinas forever. He had the hit song “Come On, Come On, Feel It, Feel It” (or something like that) and the other hit song that was a cover/redux of a much, much, much better Lou Reed song. Why’d you let him do it, Lou? Being the younger brother of one of the New Kids On The Block didn’t hurt Marky Mark’s career, as he opened for said boy band on their 1991 tour, helping to rocket his debut record, featuring his group The Funky Bunch, to the top of the charts. Which brings us to this day in 1994, when a woman claimed that she suffered injuries after being trampled at one of his shows, right after Marky had pulled down his pants, showed off his Calvin Klein tighty whities, and incited the prepubescent, and disturbingly not-so-prepubescent, crowd to rush the stage. We’re really not sure whatever became of this lawsuit, but we don’t think we’ll ever forgive God or Lou Reed for unleashing (or this day for reminding us of) the “hip-hop” “stylings” of Marky Mark. Damn, now we can’t get that song out of our head. BTW, whatever happened to The Funky Bunch? Come on, come on, feel it, feel it, Good Vibrations…

01.26: This day, 1955, saw the birth of one of the greatest guitar players ever to wander the planet, Kung Fu-style (man, we love that show), helping those in need, in their hour of rock ‘n’ roll desperation, ready to kick some audio-butt when the need arises, ready to rock at the drop of a mullet. We’ll give you a hint as to who this mystery guitarist is. His last name is also the name of his band. Take a guess. We’ll wait. Nelson? Wrong! Winger? Wrong! Toto? Awesome group, but, huh? Okay, in case you haven’t guessed it yet, Eddie Van Halen celebrates his 59th b-day today and we are totally, insanely in love with his guitar awesomeness. Eddie took guitar playing out of the ’70s and into the ’80s, playing his instrument in ways people didn’t even know possible, setting the bar higher than most people could even see. Yes, we love Eddie’s guitar playing, his contributions to rock (hard rock, specifically) and the legend that is Van Halen. From the eponymous Van Halen to the synthesizer-laden 1984 to the reunion tours with Diamond Dave, Van Halen has proven to be a powerhouse in the world of music again and again and again. And don’t forget Eddie’s solo on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” which stands the test of guitar-time and resides with the best of the best, any way you look at it.