A history of the devil’s horns


1Good Morning America Rihanna

Singer Rihanna performs on ABC's 'Good Morning America' in Times Square on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
The late, great Ronnie James Dio was many things to many metallers, but perhaps his most wide-reaching cultural innovation was the horned hand gesture. Permeating mainstream culture as far as Rihanna, the devil's horn salute has been raised far and wide; here are some of its best moments.

2Kiss // Download 2008

Ronnie first popularised the devil's horns after replacing Ozzy Osbourne as Black Sabbath's vocalist in 1979. Some claim that Coven frontman Jinx Dawson was pulling the move first, but Dio undoubtedly brought it to the masses, including Kiss' Gene Simmons.


Marilyn Manson throws the horns. Dio once explained that he was taught the so-called corna sign by his Italian grandmother, as a way to scare off the "evil eye", a look which is said to cause bad luck.


5ABACA.45256-23 Snoop Dogg MTV ICON Metallica Show

PA PHOTOS / ABACA - UK USE ONLY :Snoop Dogg attends the MTV ICON: Metallica show at Universal Studios.
Snoop Dogg displays his love of Metallica, metal in general, and tasteful bling. Dio was never seen with fake nails on his pinkies though, to our knowledge.

6Metallica Concert

The Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea, founder of The Silverlake Conservatory of Music, celebrates during his guest performance with Metallica at a benefit concert for the conservatory in Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 14, 2008. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Red Hot Chili Peppers' slap-headed slap bassist and musician for hire Flea brandishes the Dio horns onstage. Dio, the 5'4" singer behind the gesture, spent a massive six decades in the business; his career began in 1957 when he joined a band called The Vegas Kings.


En esta fotografía del 7 de julio del 2007, Ronnie James Dio interpreta una canción con el grupo británico de heavy metal "Heaven and Hell" durante el 41mo Festival de Jazz de Montreux en Montreux, Suiza. Dio falleció el domingo 16 de mayo del 2010, de acuerdo con su esposa y su representante. (AP foto/Keystone, Sandro Campardo, archivo)
Ronnie James Dio flashes the fingers. For a full gallery celebrating the life of the erstwhile Black Sabbath singer head here.

8Weston Copolla Cage's band, Eyes of Noctum perform - Los Angeles

Rob Zombie (left) and Weston Copolla Cage backstage at Weston Copolla Cage's band, Eyes of Noctum, performance at The Whisky-a-Go-Go in West Hollywood, California.
Rocker, film-maker and founder of White Zombie Rob Zombie, left, in a rare photo where he's not throwing the horns. Quasi satanists and mediocre noise rockers White Zombie made records for 13 long years between 1985 and 1998.


Slipknot celebrate the devil. Tributes poured in to Rob Zombie this week, with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich writing "Ronnie, your voice impacted and empowered me, your music inspired and influenced me, and your kindness touched and moved me."

10The Times BFI London Film Festival - Anvil! The Story Of Anvil Screening

Sarah Brown (centre) and rock band Anvil arriving for The Times BFI London Film Festival gala screening of Anvil! The Story Of Anvil, held at the Odeon West End, Leicester Square, central London.
Two of Dio's biggest fans, the guys out of Anvil (they're the ones sporting the bumbags). Steve 'Lips' Kudlow recently announced he's got about 20 songs ready for their forthcoming album 'Juggernaut of Justice'.

11Soccer - UEFA Champions League - First Knockout Round - Second Leg - Barcelona v Celtic - Barcelona Training - Camp Nou

Barcelona's Ronaldhino during a training session at Camp Nou, Barcelona.
Now, though, the gesture has made it into mainstream culture, much to the chagrin of metal fans worldwide. Ronaldinho commonly uses the expression after scoring goals.

12Obama 2008

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., center, shows the "hook em horns" as he poses with members of the University of Texas football team, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
In America, the expression means "I love you" in sign language. It's also been used by presidents from Bush to Obama and dates as far back as Jimmy Carter in the 1970s.

13President Bush Speaks On Economy

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 6: President George Bush makes the University of Texas hook'em horns sign during a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago January 6, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois. Bush talked about his plan for the economy in 2006 and highlighted his economic achievements from the past year. Bush toured the Chicago Board of Trade earlier in the day. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
George Bush prefers to tuck his thumb in while Obama often sticks his out. Communicating via sign language is a common tool in the US politician's vocabulary. If you're at a political event in the states there will be a couple of people down the front signing to the audience.

14Leeds Festival 2009

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O performs at Leeds Festival 2009. Held at Bramham Park.
Karen O makes the sign onstage in front of her own evil eye. President Obama also does a similar Hawaiian 'aloha' greeting.

15Fergie Check Presentation At Hard Rock Cafe

HOLLYWOOD, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: Singer Fergie appears at a check presentation for Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital at Hard Rock Cafe in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on September 26, 2008 in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo by Chris Gordon/WireImage)
In perhaps the worst case of celebrity sullying metal's greeting, Fergie flashes the horns at some corporate event.

1624th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony - Brunch Honoring Inductee Darryl "DMC" McDaniels

CLEVELAND - APRIL 04: Rapper Darryl "DMC" McDaniels of Run-D.M.C. poses during a brunch honoring 2009 inductee Darryl "DMC" McDaniels prior to the 24th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Hard Rock Cafe on April 4, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Kevin Kane/WireImage)
Run DMC were also fans of the devil's horn. We interviewed the man behind the gesture, Dio, in June 2009 - head here to read his reminiscences on Ozzy Osbourne, 'Holy Diver', and starring in South Park.


Ronnie James Dio puts his hands into cement during an induction ceremony into Hollywoods RockWalk in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2006. The RockWalk is the only sidewalk gallery dedicated to honoring those artists who have made a significant impact and lasting contribution to the growth and evolution Rock n Roll, Blues and R&B. (AP Photo/Branimir Kvartuc)
Ronnie James Dio, singer, songwriter, member of Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, and his own band Dio, immortalises his own famous hand gesture. Dio passed away on Sunday May 16th from stomach cancer.

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