Ronnie James Dio’s widow slams Gene Simmons over ‘disgusting’ devil horns trademark bid

Wendy Dio says the iconic rock hand gesture 'belongs to everyone'

The wife of late Black Sabbath frontman Ronnie James Dio has criticised Gene Simmons for attempting to trademark the “devil horns” rock hand gesture.

It was recently reported that Kiss frontman and bassist Simmons has filed an application to the US Patent and Trademark Office, claiming to have first popularised the now-ubiquitous salute during Kiss’ Hotter Than Hell tour in 1974. Simmons is seeking to trademark the gesture for “entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist.”

Rock frontman Dio is widely credited as popularising the gesture, although he denied that he invented it. In a 2001 interview, Dio said: “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.”

Now Dio’s widow Wendy Dio has described Simmons’ actions as “disgusting”, “a joke” and “just crazy”, saying: “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.”

“It’s laughable, I think, quite honestly,” she told The Wrap. “I think he’s made a complete fool of himself. It’s disgusting; what does he want?”

It has been noted that use of the gesture – or something similar – appears to predate Simmons’ timeline. John Lennon, for example, is seen making a similar gesture on the cover of The Beatles’ 1966 single, ‘Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby’.

Watch Kiss in an archive NME interview above.