Where Did Rock Metal’s ‘Devil Horns’ Hand Gesture Come From?

    where did the “devil horns” hand gesture originate? who invented it?

    The sign of the horns, also known as devil horns or metal horns, is ubiquitous in heavy metal, hard rock, and much more. music fans, especially concert goers, find it frequently. they throw it themselves in return, the expression passing from one group of listeners to the next. but where did it come from?

    Reading: What is the devils sign

    It turns out that tracking down a source for the symbol can get murky, especially since the hand sign itself has a history that predates heavy music.

    but wait, some readers might think, i thought ronnie james first showed off the devil horns. but that’s how it is? or was it the old butler from black sabbath who brought the gesture to primitive metal? maybe gene simmons trying to trademark a version of the horns in 2017 made some kiss the devil.

    however, it would seem that the truth of the devil’s horn goes beyond any of those musicians. although that does not mean that the defense of the gesture by these artists did not help to popularize it in music.

    regardless, we wanted to know the honest truth about devil horns. who initiated the gesture? Is there any artist or band that can legitimately take credit for being the first to do the hand shake in rock and metal?

    the origin of the devil’s horns

    To be anthropological, one must know that the hand gesture that metalheads identify as the devil’s horns can mean other things to different cultures and religions. If you’re in Italy and you spread out your index and little fingers while holding the others with your thumb, a local might think you’re trying to ward off bad luck, or insult them, as CNN has documented. it can also be considered as an offensive sign in other parts of the world.

    and the history of the gesture extends further, especially in a spiritual capacity. the irony is that the sign a metal fan makes to indicate a mix of loud music, hedonism, and possibly devil worship is often used to expel demons in Buddhism (the karana mudra). it is the apana mudra of yoga, which is said to bring health and strength or even eliminate gas and indigestion.

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    now there are other examples: it’s “hook ’em horns” from the texas longhorns, it’s an emoji. the point is that the physical gesture itself was used long before it was linked to metal or even music. That said, the symbol of the horns is not exactly the same as those ritual movements, where the middle and ring fingers lightly touch the tip of the thumb. with the horns, the thumb usually covers one or more of the nails.

    But that’s not what we really want to know, is it? we want to know if an artist or band can claim to be the originator of horns in music. Unfortunately, that’s where the conversation between a handful of rockers about where the gesture came from can get things blurry. still, if one looks carefully at the available information, it doesn’t seem too difficult to conclude who probably dropped them first.

    dio, gene and geezer

    To come to a safe conclusion as to who invented the devil horns of music, however, one must review the list of artists attached as its inventor over the years. (surprisingly, even the beatles have skin in this game). As many metalheads no doubt know, that list almost always begins with Ronnie James Dio.

    in his life, however, he downplayed it.

    “I highly doubt I’d be the first to do that,” Dio told in 2001. “It’s like saying I invented the wheel, I’m sure someone did at some other point. I think you would have need to say i made it trendy. i used it a lot and all the time and it had become my trademark until the britney spears audience decided to do it too. so it lost its meaning. with that.”

    seems like a pretty sensible statement from the late dio and black sabbath singer. Furthermore, it shows that the rocker most often connected to brass trumpets was well aware that he had infiltrated pop music (and thus pop culture in general) by the turn of the millennium. p>

    But back in 1979, according to an account by the Florida Times-Union legend, he wanted a sign that would set him apart from Ozzy Osbourne’s departure when he replaced the singer on Sabbath. Ozzy was known for flashing double peace signs, so he gave up doing double devil horns onstage with the band.

    The rest, as they say, is history. but if he did not claim to have invented the devil’s horns, is there anyone else who does? The most visible suggestion of that lately is probably from Simmons, the kissing icon and businessman who made headlines trying to trademark it. but the plain and simple fact is that the symbol he was trying to harness legal power over is not the devil’s horns, but American Sign Language for “I love you.” (yes, the two are very close).

    then there’s butler, the black sabbath bassist who earlier this year said he was the one who showed dio the devil’s horns in the first place. There is a photo of the 1969 band from Sabbath floating with the butler displaying the sign, although it is difficult to trace in what materials, if any, the image appeared at the time. after the fact, listeners were said to have found it in the liner notes of a 2002 cd retrospective, symptom of the universe: the original black sabbath 1970-1978.

    Dio maintained that the devil’s horns “were [a] symbol that I thought reflected what the band was supposed to be.”

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    he added, pointing to his disembodied origins, “it’s not the devil’s sign like we’re here with the devil. it’s an Italian thing my grandmother gave me…to remove the evil eye or to give the evil eye , depending on which way you do it, it’s just a symbol but it had magical enchantments and attitudes and I felt like it worked really well with sabbath so I got pretty well known for that and then everyone else started to notice and get went. went. but I would never say I take credit for being the first to do it. I say that because I did it so much that it became the symbol of rock ‘n’ roll of some kind.”

    who started the devil horns?

    So who started it? again, the duplicity of the devil’s horns rears its head. Dio’s family used the symbol to ward off evil. But the most likely early instigator of the popularity of devil horns in heavy metal, the occult-driven rock coven of the 1960s and 1970s, seemed hell-bent on using devil horns for the devil’s purpose. p>

    It may seem silly now, but if you take the coven’s 1969 debut witchcraft destroys minds and reaps souls at face value, the chicago-based doom rockers’ primary goal was, in fact, to spread the word of satan It’s worth noting that the opening song of the mercury records album is called “black sabbath” and here we go, some of the band members are cheekily holding devil horns on the back cover.

    “with the ‘evil’ prayers during the ‘coven at charing cross,'” allmusic’s joe viglione writes of the witchcraft music itself, “the coven gets a bit rough; the group goes overboard trying to push the black magic stuff. ‘deal with the devil’ is written ‘package with the devil’ on the label, and the 13+ minute ‘satanic mass’ is more of a curiosity piece than [a] musical adventure.”

    Despite the tunes, in 2017, the coven threatened legal action against Simmons if he insisted on going ahead with his trademark offering. the coven claimed that the devil’s horns hand sign was “exempt” for the band, saying they had been photographed making the gesture since 1967.

    witchcraft and the devil’s horns

    To conclude, it seems that the coven has the best claim to be the creators of heavy metal’s devil horns. Doing the math isn’t hard: Black Sabbath, newly formed in 1968, was still called Earth until August 1969, when they changed their name to the more famous moniker. coven’s witchcraft came out that same summer and again the doomy prog and psych-rock opening song is titled “black sabbath”.

    not to mention, what happened to the search for simmon’s trademark after the coven got involved? he dropped it.

    Still, the sense of mystery surrounding the sign of the horns will probably never go away. It might even be why the symbol still feels so powerful when attendees raise their arms and make the move at rock and metal concerts around the world.

    So the next time you throw the emote — and it could be soon, with plenty of festivals and events returning this summer after a 2020 without concerts — remember the wicked witchy rockers who likely brought devil horns to life. .

    horns up!

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