OCTOBER 2004 ISSUE
John Lennon created 3 Heavy Metal "Firsts"
FACT 1: In 1967 John Lennon creates the famous Heavy Metal "devil's horns" Hand Signal
NOTE: There is a distinction between the "devil's horns" signal and the American Sign Language sign for "love"...The American Sign Language sign for "love" has an extended thumb, while the middle and ring fingers are touching the palm. The "devil's horns" signal is formed by extending the index and little fingers while holding the middle and ring fingers down with the thumb.
We have discovered irrefutable photographic evidence that is was none other than Beatle John Lennon that created the famous sign in 1967. Furthermore, it was even used in animation for the Beatles YELLOW SUBMARINE (just check the original vinyl album cover). These are photographic images that can be tied down to specific years PRIOR to the '70s.
The photo of Lennon giving the sign appeared in one of the first Beatles pictures in which the band promoted the upcoming YELLOW SUBMARINE animated movie. Since the Beatles changed appearance often and were one of the most photographed icons of the '60s, it is possible to date the photo between June and October of '67. YELLOW SUBMARINE was being animated between '67 & '68, so the cartoon image of John flashing the heavy metal sign can also be verified date-wise.
Didn't Lennon really give the American Sign Language sign gesture for "love"? Well, if you look closely at both both the photo and the animation, Lennon has his thumb down, not extended. So he is NOT giving the sign for "love"!
Although the film YELLOW SUBMARINE was released in 1968, the vinyl album (on which one can clearly see Lennon displaying the sign) was not released in the U.S. until 1969. But that is still years before Ronnie James Dio or Gene Simmons!
FACT 2: In 1964 John Lennon wore the first Heavy Metal guitar strap
In heavy metal fashion, it seems that John Lennon was another pioneer.
When you think of heavy metal bands playing on stage, most people think of the studded leather look. Even the guitar straps are studded. Many credit Rob Halford, of Judas Priest, with bringing the studded leather look to heavy metal. Other bands that used the look are: Iron Maiden, Motörhead, and Saxon - in many variations, such as studded belts and bracelets, bullet belts, spiked gauntlets, etc.
Right: Lennon wearing his "Armored" Python Shoulder Strap at Shea Stadium in 1965 - and a closeup of the strap
However, back in 1964 John Lennon was wearing a guitar strap of black leather with 'python' metal plates and studs!
In 1964, John asked Dick Denney at Vox if he could make him a snake-skin guitar strap, and Denney created the Vox Armored Python Shoulder Strap (#V822).
A quick search of youtube and you can see all the above performances, and see the strap for yourself! Look for the following:
Oh, by the way, Lennon gave his strap to Eric Clapton during his Cream days in 1967.
FACT 3: In 1970 John Lennon recorded the first Heavy Metal "Cookie Monster" vocals
Who can forget the memorable heavy metal Cookie Monster voice, with its coarse, growling vocal style? Named so by its similarities with the voice of the Cookie Monster muppet on Sesame Street!The voice is usually thought to have originated with Lemmy of Motorhead.
But it was John Lennon who first used this heavy metal voice back in 1970, on his debut solo album, "Plastic Ono Band". During the track "Hold On", he breaks into full cookie monster mode, suddenly singing, "Coooookie". This is the first use of the future death metal vocal style on a recorded album!
A few months later, fellow Beatles Ringo Starr also gives Lennon credit, on his own solo B-side, "Early 1970". In the song, Ringo laughingly immitates John's cookie monster voice, alluding to John and Yoko's affinity for lying in bed and watching Sesame Street together.
FURTHER FACTS: Even more!
We've proven that John Lennon was a heavy metal pioneer in 3 areas: gestures, fashion, and vocals. But, there is still more!
So there you have it...FIVE instances in which John Lennon influenced heavy metal. He was a first in these five topics, all of which can be proven!
Betcha didn't know?
So, all you metal heads - it is time to raise both those arms in the universal heavy metal devil-horn salute and say..."John Lennon - YOU ROCK DUDE!"!