Vinny Appice says that Ronnie James Dio would be “pissed off” if he was alive to see Gene Simmons attempt to trademark the so-called “devil’s horns” hand gesture.
The late BLACK SABBATH and RAINBOW singer is widely credited with popularizing the symbol — a staple at rock concerts for decades — which the KISS bassist/vocalist filed an application to trademark on June 9, only to abandon it less than two weeks later.
Appice, who played with Dio in SABBATH, DIO and HEAVEN & HELL, was asked for his thoughts on Gene‘s trademark attempt during a recent appearance on the “Ouch You’re On My Hair” podcast. Vinny said (hear audio below): “Ronnie‘s hand gesture thing is an old Italian thing; it’s called the maloik. And his grandmother showed him that and used to do that, and so did the elders in my family too. And that’s to put… one way’s to put horns on people, and the other way is to wish ’em good luck. So Gene couldn’t have invented it, because it’s an old Italian thing. And if Ronnie was alive, man, he’d be pissed off. Oh, yeah!”
Ronnie James Dio, who reportedly didn’t start using the hand gesture on stage until after joining BLACK SABBATH in 1979, himself declined to take credit for the symbol, explaining in a 2001 interview: “I doubt very much if I would be the first one who ever did that. That’s like saying I invented the wheel. I’m sure someone did that at some other point. I think you’d have to say that I made it fashionable. I used it so much and all the time and it had become my trademark.”
Dio ― who said his Italian grandmother often invoked the horns to ward off the malocchio (the evil eye), bad luck or malevolent spirits ― also took issue with Simmons.
“Gene Simmons will tell you that he invented it,” Ronnie once said. “But then again, Gene invented breathing and shoes and everything else.”
Ronnie James Dio‘s widow Wendy also criticized Simmons for attempting to trademark the hand sign. She told TheWrap: “To try to make money off of something like this is disgusting. It belongs to everyone — it doesn’t belong to anyone. It’s a public domain, it shouldn’t be trademarked.”
Most music fans have slammed Simmons for the trademark request, saying the symbol has become ubiquitous and means different things to different people.
When asked if it was Ronnie James Dio who actually started it, Simmons told Classic Rock magazine: “Well, I’ve heard Ronnie say that to my face and I said, ‘God bless you.’ I mean him no ill will, but I think he’s wrong. Mine came from Spider-man doing his hand signal, as a homage to him. If you see me in photos, I’m sticking out my thumb. That’s the sign in sign language which means ‘I love you.'”