Stand back, Gene Simmons: When it comes to claiming rights for the “horns” hand gesture, you might be the last in line.
Following news that KISS frontman Gene Simmons is attempting to trademark the “horns” hand gesture — a staple at rock concerts for decades — TheWrap spoke to Wendy Dio, widow of deceased singer Ronnie James Dio, who’s widely credited with popularizing the hand gesture.
Dio’s assessment of Simmons’ trademark bid? It’s “disgusting.”
“To try to make money off of something like this is disgusting,” Dio told TheWrap. “It belongs to everyone; it doesn’t belong to anyone. … It’s a public domain; it shouldn’t be trademarked.”
Dio was quick to note that her husband — who fronted groups including Black Sabbath and Rainbow — shouldn’t be credited with the gesture either. As she noted, the singer, who died in 2010, adopted the hand gesture from an old Italian sign that he picked up from his grandmother, which is used to either ward off evil or give the evil eye, depending on how it’s employed.
Dio also noted that the rock band Coven used the hand gesture, as displayed on the cover of the group’s 1969 debut album, while the cartoon version of John Lennon flashes a similar sign on the cover of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” album, released in 1969.
Simmons filed his application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on June 9, describing the “horns” symbol as “a hand gesture with the index and small fingers extended upward and the thumb extended perpendicular.”
In the application, Simmons claimed to have first used the gesture “At least as early as 11/14/1974,” and said it has been used for “Entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist, personal appearances by a musical artist.”
Gene Simmons' 10 Most Obnoxious Moments (Photos)
Simmons accused Prince of killing himself slowly with drugs and alcohol abuse in an interview following the legendary musician's untimely death in April 2016. "How pathetic he killed himself," the KISS frontman told Newsweek.
"I am looking forward to the death of rap," Simmons told Rolling Stone in March 2016. He predicted the genre would die within the next decade and said he is "looking forward to music coming back to lyrics and melody, instead of just talking." He was swiftly taken to task by hip-hop fans and artists.
Following his comments about hip-hop and rap in Rolling Stone, Simmons got into a Twitter feud with N.W.A.'s Ice Cube when the group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “Respectfully — let me know when Jimi Hendrix gets into the hip hop hall of fame. Then you’ll have a point,” Simmons wrote.
In 2002, Simmons sat down for an interview with Terry Gross, the host of NPR's "Fresh Air." The conversation soon became contentious when Simmons accused Gross of being out-of-touch with reality and proudly bragged about his sexual conquests. He later blamed Gross for the interview, saying her attitude was "holier than thou."
Simmons drew some criticism for his attitude toward immigrants when, in a 2014 interview with HuffPost Live, he advised them to "learn to speak goddamn English." Simmons, himself an immigrant, blamed the "politically correct climate" for holding Americans back from saying what needed to be said.
Simmons' most widely criticized interview came in 2014, when he said he doesn't get along with drug addicts and people who have "a dark cloud over their head and [see] themselves as a victim." He reserved even harsher judgement for people suffering from depression: "Fuck you, then kill yourself." The backlash was swift, and Simmons soon issued an apology.
In a 2013 radio interview, Simmons claimed that music legends like Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse can't be called legends because they didn't release enough music before their tragic deaths. "What, just 'cause you died that makes you an icon? No, no," he said.
When Madonna was booked to perform the Super Bowl halftime show in 2012, Simmons was critical of the choice in and interview with TMZ. He referred to the pop star a "karaoke singer" and accused her of lip syncing her performances.
Simmons declared the end of the music industry and rock and roll as a genre in a 2014 Esquire, for which he was interviewed by his son, Nick. "Rock is finally dead," the KISS frontman said. He advised young songwriters to give up because the barriers to entry for rock musicians has become "insurmountable."
Simmons bragged about being rich in a 2014 interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, proudly labeling himself as a member of the "One percent." After claiming that the wealthy few are the ones keeping the economy afloat, Simmons offered some advice to those less fortunate than himself: "Try being nice to rich people.”
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KISS frontman’s outlandish stage get-ups are matched by his equally extreme statements about depression, immigration and the death of the music industry