Gene Simmons recently attempted to copyright the ‘Devil hornz’ universal Heavy Metal gesture but this week we hear that he has dropped the claim. Gene stated that he first made the sign onstage with Kiss as early as 1974, thus predating some fans’ claims that the late great Ronnie James Dio was the originator.
Words: Chris Dale
Ronnie, however, never said that he invented the sign himself and much less did he try to claim copyright to it. His widow, Wendy Dio, said recently that she thought Gene’s legal claim was “laughable”.
So who was the first to use the rock’n’roll Devil hornz sign? Let’s have a quick look through that big history book called the internet. The first thing we see is that folk were doing it long before Ronnie and Gene. Here’s a band called Coven in 1969. Funnily enough they also had a song called ‘Black Sabbath’ and their bassist was called Oz Osborne.
And here’s a band called…
Look what John Lennon is doing on one of the most famous Beatles singles. His cartoon is also doing the same sign on the album cover. Both Gene and Ronnie are self confessed Beatles fans; it’s impossible that neither of them saw this single or album.
Despite claiming copyright of the sign in 2017, back in 2014 Gene told Classic Rock magazine that he wasn’t the originator and that he got the idea from Spiderman comics of the 1960s.
Ronnie James Dio said his Italian grandmother used to make the sign to ward off evil spirits. Assuming that Ronnie’s grandmother would be around forty years older than him, that suggests the sign was used in Italy in the early 1900s.
Is it older than that? Yes, it is. Ronnie’s grandmother’s superstition wasn’t a new invention; it goes way back in history. Popes, priests, kings and saints, they’re all up to it. The oldest I could find in my quick search was this medieval painting of that well known Christian messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.
So there we go, Devil Hornz © Jesus Christ c30AD