As you may no doubt have heard, KISS bassist Gene Simmons has lodged a trademark application for the Metal Horns hand gesture.
Good luck with that, mate. The “metal horns” hand gesture has been around far longer than Simmons himself has been in adulthood, and will continue long after he has shuffled loose the mortal coil. Before metal even existed, the metal horns held an entirely different meaning.
#1. The “metal horns” gesture is the gesture of the Horned God in Wicca
Cernunnos is the Celtic horned god, the equivalent of the Greek god Pan, and is the Horned God in Wicca:
The sign of the horns is the gesture of the Horned God in Wicca (refer to Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham, p. 42).
As an aside, here’s the Church of Satan founder Anton La Vey throwing the horns:
It should be noted that Wicca was founded in 1954 by Gerald Gardner and the Church of Satan was founded in San Francisco, United States on 30 April 1966, putting Simmons at age 5 at the time Wicca was founded, and age 16 when the Church of Satan was founded.
#2. The horns hand sign was/is used in Italian and other folklore to ward off the evil eye
In the documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, Ronnie James Dio stated that his use of the horns on stage came from seeing his Italian grandmother use it, and explained that it was used to ward off malocchio (Evil Eye).
#3. The first known use of the horns gesture in rock/metal was by the band Coven
Here’s the cover artwork for Coven’s 1969 album, Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls:
The Beatles threw up the horns on the cover of the album Yellow Submarine, but they’re essentially a pop band, so I’m ignoring them. In any event, here’s a promo shot for that album:
Sorry Gene, you can’t claim that you used it first.
#4 Ronnie James Dio popularised the metal horns
Dio began using the sign of the horns shortly after joining Black Sabbath in 1979.
#5. The horns gesture means “I love you” in American sign language
So with all due respect Mr Simmons, take your trademark application and shove it where the sun don’t shine. While we’re on the subject of hand gestures, I salute you while I chug down this sweet, sweet caffeinated beverage: