Metal marketer extraordinaire Gene Simmons overstepped the line, and it looks like he knows it.
On June 9, he filed this application to the US Patent Office:
If you’re at all into heavy metal, you’ll understand why just about everyone else in the world who’s into it with you has been seething at the KISS bassist for nearly a fortnight now.
Unofficially, the “devil’s horns” belong to Ronnie James Dio, best known as the lead singer of Black Sabbath, who died in 2010, and first started using the gesture in the 70s.
But it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Simmons, in his application, planned to trademark the gesture for “Entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist.”
Yesterday, it looks like he abandoned the attempt, although he is yet to go on the public record as to why. Most likely, it was due to the flood of complaints and worldwide rage from fans and fellow metal pioneers alike.
But even Dio admits he didn’t “invent” the salute. He told Variety in 1990 that he picked it up as a child from his Italian grandparents, who taught it to him as a sign to protect himself from someone giving him the evil eye.
Dio’s salute is different from the one Simmons filed in his application:
Middle fingers tucked behind the thumb. And Megadeth singer Dave Mustaine believes even Dio got it wrong, saying you “leave the middle two fingers outstretched and place the thumb between them so it resembles the snout of a jackal”.
Above all the arguments, Simmons’ gesture actually represents “I love you” in sign language. He says he got it from reading Dr Strange and Spider-Man comics.
Regardless, everyone can stop bickering now. At the very least, Simmons has once again done what he does best – kept a hard rock empire now valued as much as $US5 billion in the spotlight for 46 years.
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