Devil's Horns: Who Is Responsible For Metal's Famous Hand Signal?

Steve Appleford of LA CityBEAT recently conducted a "survey" of heavy metal musicians regarding the origins of the "devil's horns" hand sign — the horned hand, with index finger and pinkie raised proudly as the sign of the beast, which is being used as the "international greeting to heavy metal ecstasy."

"Gene Simmons of KISS wrote in his 2002 autobiography that it was his accidental invention, the inadvertent gesture of a great man, repeated at concerts and picked up by fans," Appleford writes. "Not likely. Former BLACK SABBATH shouter Ronnie James Dio also takes the credit, first raising the horns before joining the band in 1978. And he’s expressed alarm over the image of Britney Spears fans raising the sign at concerts by the dancing diva of lip-synched pop."

When Appleford asked Lemmy about the source of the "devil's horns" hand sign, noting the casual claims of Gene Simmons, Lemmy replied, "Well, he would, wouldn't he? He is so eeevilll. Come on, gimme a fucking break."

Lars Ulrich of METALLICA has no doubt at all: "That’s got to be Ronnie James Dio. 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. Back in '75, '76, '77, it was all about RAINBOW and BLACK SABBATH and THIN LIZZY."

In a separate interview, METALLICA singer-guitarist James Hetfield answers, "I think Dio." Then he goes on, with a smile: "I think Spider-Man originally. It's also 'I love you' in sign language. I don't know, I think it's 'Two more songs!' – you know." Read more.

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