During a recent interview with Cleveland, Black Sabbath’s primary songwriter and bassist Geezer Butler talked about the origins of the sign of the horns and responded to the question of who the inventor of the sign was while discussing why Ronnie James Dio adopted it.

The sign of the horns is without a doubt the most widespread hand sign in the heavy metal scene. Even though Slipknot are credited for their goat symbol which refers to the sign of horns, it was Black Sabbath’s Ronnie James Dio that popularised that hand gesture in the heavy metal scene.

In an interview, Dio had claimed that his Italian grandmother would use this gesture to ward off the evil eye, but in his recent interview, Geezer Butler refuted this statement. Butler said that he would often do it on stage when they would play the song ‘Black Sabbath’ and that there are numerous photos of him doing it.

When Dio joined the band and they started touring together, he saw that the audience was ‘flashing the peace sign’ at him, which was Ozzy’s signature hand sign. So while trying to come up with something different, Geezer taught him the devils horn which he had first seen from occultist writer Aleister Crowley and from then on, it kind of became Dio’s thing.

Here’s what Geezer Butler said in the interview when he was asked about whether Dio picked up the devil’s horn hand sign from him:

“Well, I used to do that to the audience when we were playing ‘Black Sabbath,’ the song. There are pictures of me doing it, I know. But I didn’t invent it. It was something Aleister Crowley used to do…

So when we went on tour with Ronnie, he was like, ‘Everybody’s flashing the peace sign at me. But that’s an Ozzy thing. What can I do back to them?’ I showed him the sign and he did it and it just kind of took off from there, you know?”

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