Gene Simmons tries to trademark metal 'devil horns' gesture

15/06/2017

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It's popular with rock bands the world over, but who really invented the devil horns gesture?

Kiss frontman Gene Simmons says he did, and now he's filed a trademark application to stop other metalheads from using it.

Simmons, who found fame with devilish songs such as 'I Was Made for Lovin' You' and 'Rock and Roll All Nite', filed the application earlier this month.

"The mark consists of a hand gesture with the index and small fingers extended upward and the thumb extended perpendicular," Simmons wrote.

He wants the sole rights to use it in "live performances by a musical artist" and "personal appearances".

The application includes a diagram of the gesture and a photograph of Simmons doing it with Foo Fighters singer Dave Grohl.

In the filing, Simmons claims he first used the devil horns at a gig in November 1974.

The 'Detroit Rock City' star first claimed the "accidental invention" in his 2002 autobiography, which was widely mocked at the time. A follow-up survey of metal musicians by music magazine LA CityBEAT found most credited Rainbow and Black Sabbath singer Ronnie James Dio.

"That's got to be Ronnie James Dio," Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich told the magazine. "I remember Rainbow used to play in Denmark about every half-hour, so I used to go see it every half-hour. And Ronnie James Dio did a lot of that."

Late Motorhead frontman Lemmy mocked the idea Simmons could be considered "evil" enough to have come up with the gesture.

"Come on, gimme a f**king break."

Metallica singer James Hetfield said it was either Dio or Spider-Man.

"It's also 'I love you' in sign language," he correctly noted.

As early as 1966, Beatles singer John Lennon rocked the devil horns on the cover of perhaps the least heavy metal song ever put to tape - 'Yellow Submarine'. The cartoon version which graced the cover of the 1969 soundtrack album also did the gesture.

Another record released in 1969, Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls by Coven, featured members of the band unmistakably flashing devil horns on the back cover of the album. Interestingly, the first song on the record was called 'Black Sabbath' - the name of the band Dio would join in the 1970s.