BLACK SABBATH bassist Geezer Butler says that he was using the so-called “devil horns” years before Ronnie James Dio adopted it a his own.
Dio is frequently recognized for making the hand gesture mainstream — a staple at rock concerts for decades. However, Butler claims that Ronnie actually got the idea to use it after watching his former SABBATH bandmate make the sign at every concert.
Butler said during an appearance on recent episode of SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk”: “I’ve been doing that sign since — I’ve got pictures of me doing it since 1971. And I always used to do it in the breakdown in the song ‘Black Sabbath’ — just before it goes into the fast part at the end, I’d do that sign to the audience.
“And on the first couple of Heaven And Hell tour shows, Ronnie was saying, ‘When I’m going on stage, everybody is doing the peace sign to me, and that’s an Ozzy [Osbourne] thing. I feel like I should be doing something back to them.’ He says, ‘What’s that sign that you do in ‘Black Sabbath’?’ And I showed him the devil horns sign. And he started doing it from there and made it famous.”
When asked why he had never publicly revealed before that he was responsible for showing Dio the devil horns, Butler responded: “I didn’t really think much of it. As I say, I’ve got pictures of me doing it in 1971. And it was just an alternative to Ozzy‘s peace signs, I was doing it. And if you look at the Yellow Submarine album cover [from THE BEATLES], John Lennon‘s cartoon character is doing it, in 1966 or whatever it was. So it’s an old sign. I was just doing it ’cause [English occultist] Aleister Crowley used to do it.”
“There’s a lot of things that he nicked off me that he claimed that he was the originator,” Butler added. “But he made it famous, so I didn’t care. The [DIO] album title Sacred Heart; that’s where I used to go to school. And he called one of his songs ‘One Foot In The Grave,’ I jokingly said, ‘We should call the album One Foot In The Grave.’ And then when he left [SABBATH], he called one of his songs that. He was very naughty about things like that. And when I did an autograph, I’d write ‘Magic.’. So Ronnie started writing ‘Magic’ as well. In fact, he called his [DIO] album Magica. He was very naughty about things like that.”