Geezer Butler claims to have been using the “devil’s horns” symbol before Ronnie James Dio popularized it. He vividly remembers the moment when his late former bandmate made it his own trademark.
Although Gene Simmons once attempted to trademark it, it is widely known that the hand gesture of the “devil’s horns” originated as a universal symbol for all things related to metal, thanks to Ronnie James Dio.
The iconic vocalist frequently shared that he learned this gesture from his Italian Catholic grandmother, who used it as a means to protect against the “evil eye”. Furthermore, some reports suggest that Dio deliberately adopted the hand gesture after joining Black Sabbath in 1979, in order to distinguish himself from Ozzy Osbourne, who was known for flashing the “peace” sign during live performances.
In a recent interview on “The Rock Experience With Mike Brunn” podcast, Geezer Butler, the bassist of Black Sabbath, revealed that he was the one who actually inspired Ronnie James Dio to adopt the widely recognized hand gesture. According to a transcription via Blabbermouth, Butler shared the following:
“That was my thing. Starting from 1968, I had been doing the devil horns. When Ronnie joined the band, during our very first live gig, everyone was flashing Ozzy’s peace signs at him, and Ronnie didn’t know how to respond.
“Then he noticed me doing the devil horns gesture in the song ‘Black Sabbath’. A couple of nights later, he approached me and said, ‘I can’t do Ozzy’s V-sign thing. Would you mind if I borrow what you’re doing, the devil horns?’ I replied, ‘Yeah, go for it.’ So he incorporated it into every song and made it his own. He popularized it.”