John Hinckley Jr who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan in 1981 now performs love songs on YouTube


John Hinckley Jr., the man who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan in an attempt to ‘impress’ actress Jodie Foster, is posting videos of himself performing original love songs on YouTube – and has attracted nearly 7,000 subscribers to his page. 

They’re serenaded by the would-be assassin with such original songs as ‘Everything is Gonna’ Be Alright,’ which had nearly 16,000 views as of Wednesday afternoon. Though he’s attracted subscribers, the people who follow his YouTube page don’t pay anything.

The Oklahoman, 66, who spent 35 years in a psychiatric hospital after the 1981 assassination attempt, is also a keen painter, guitarist and singer.

Last year, he won a ruling to publicly display his artwork and music under his own name after previously being forced to release it anonymously.

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John Hinckley Jr., the man who attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan in an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster, is posting videos of himself performing original love songs on YouTube. Pictured: mugshot in 1981

John Hinckley Jr., the man who attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan in an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster, is posting videos of himself performing original love songs on YouTube. Pictured: mugshot in 1981

Last year, he won a ruling to publicly display his artwork and music under his own name after previously being forced to release it anonymously

Last year, he won a ruling to publicly display his artwork and music under his own name after previously being forced to release it anonymously

Last year, he won a ruling to publicly display his artwork and music under his own name after previously being forced to release it anonymously

Now Hinckley Jr, who was released from hospice in 2016 under many conditions, has created a YouTube channel where he posts both covers and original songs.  

Most of those he has written are love songs. 

Among the covers are Elvis Presley’s Can’t Stop Falling In Love and Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind, with his channel so far nearly racking up 100,000 views among all of his songs – and nearly 7,000 subscribers. 

The Oklahoman, 66, spent 35 years in a psychiatric hospital after the assassination attempt in 1981

The Oklahoman, 66, spent 35 years in a psychiatric hospital after the assassination attempt in 1981

The Oklahoman, 66, spent 35 years in a psychiatric hospital after the assassination attempt in 1981

Among the covers are Elvis Presley's Can't Stop Falling In Love and Bob Dylan's Blowing in the Wind

Among the covers are Elvis Presley's Can't Stop Falling In Love and Bob Dylan's Blowing in the Wind

Among the covers are Elvis Presley’s Can’t Stop Falling In Love and Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind

President Ronald Reagan pictured waving to a crowd before the March 30, 1981, assassination attempt at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC

President Ronald Reagan pictured waving to a crowd before the March 30, 1981, assassination attempt at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC

John Hinckley Jr. (pictured in April 2014) who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan can now publicly display his writings, artwork and music

John Hinckley Jr. (pictured in April 2014) who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan can now publicly display his writings, artwork and music

John Hinckley Jr. (pictured right, in April 2014) who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan (pictured left, waving to a crowd before the March 30, 1981, assassination attempt at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC) can now publicly display his writings, artwork and music

The would-be assassin’s battle to sell his art 

Hinckley tried to become a songwriter in his youth, and though he was unsuccessful, he has continued to write his own songs and paint.

A court order banned him from performing or displaying art under his own name.

Throughout his treatment, he also took part in music therapy once a month. 

After his release, he performed songs anonymously but received little recognition so tried to challenge the order.

According to court records he anonymously sold books online as well as items at an antique mall.

Therapists had been concerned about him being trolled or becoming a narcissist, undoing the decades of work to improve his mental health.

He submitted a request as part of a violence risk assessment following his release to perform under his name.

Last year, lawyers for Hinckley won a ruling from a judge allowing him to display art and make a profit from it.

US District Judge Paul L. Friedman said Hinckley must inform his treatment team of his plans to display his works, and they will help him process feedback.

Hinckley attempted to shoot the president on March 20, 1981 but the bullet ricocheted and hit Reagan in the chest, leaving him injured but not fatally so. 

The president was shot just outside the Washington Hilton Hotel after giving a speech there. 

Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady; Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy; and police officer Thomas Delahanty were wounded.

Brady suffered brain damage and was permanently disabled. He died in 2014.

Law enforcement officials considered Brady’s death a homicide since it was caused by his injuries. 

McCarthy, 71, who served in the Secret Service as part of the president’s security detail, was wounded in the assassination attempt. 

‘I turned toward where I thought the shots were coming from, attempted to make myself as big as I could and lo and behold, I was hit right in the chest,’ McCarthy told WSL-TV. 

McCarthy retired from the Secret Service in 1993 and was named police chief in Orland Park, Illinois in 1994. 

He retired from law enforcement last August. 

At the time, Hinckley, the would-be assassin, was suffering from acute psychosis and was obsessed with the actress Jodie Foster. 

Hinckley became infatuated with Foster after she appeared in the hit 1976 film Taxi Driver. 

He began stalking the actress when she was a freshman at Yale during the 1980-81 academic year. 

In March 1982, Foster, who was just 18 years old at the time, testified at Hincklley’s trial in US District Court in Washington, DC.

Authorities said Hinckley planned to assassinate Reagan in order to impress Foster. 

Jurors found him not guilty by reason of insanity, and said he needed treatment, not a lifetime in confinement. 

Hinckley – who was 25 when he shot Reagan – has since been declared mentally stable, and his therapists helped him release music via Soundcloud and YouTube.  

His self-penned ballads include Majesty of Love with the lyrics, ‘the world is in so much pain, we have much to gain’, and Everything Is Gonna Be Alright, where he croons ‘there ain’t nothing wrong with the rain, it is good to wash away the pain’.

A 1995 civil settlement had banned Hinckley from financially benefiting from his name or story.  

But in October last year, his lawyer, Barry Levine, argued the settlement should not bar him from selling artworks, allowing him to profit from his creations. 

Hinckley said: ‘I’m a musician. Nobody knows that. They just see me as the guy who tried to kill Reagan.’

Hinckley attempted to shoot the president on March 20, 1981 but the bullet ricocheted and hit Reagan in the chest, leaving him injured but not fatally so. 

At the time the would-be assassin was suffering from acute psychosis and was obsessed with the actress Jodie Foster. 

Jurors found him not guilty by reason of insanity, and said he needed treatment, not a lifetime in confinement. 

Hinckley – who was 25 when he shot Reagan – has since been declared mentally stable, and his therapists helped him release music via Soundcloud and YouTube.

‘I worry he’s a well-known figure and I worry about someone trolling him,’ one therapist said.

Another, Carl Beffa wrote in court papers: ‘I would very much like to see him be able to make an income from his artwork. If it coincidentally happens his name is attached to it, I don’t see it would be an issue.

‘I would be surprised if it reverted back to this narcissism he had with Jodie Foster, because it has not been present in any way whatsoever.’

The judgment required Hinckley to inform his treatment team of his plans to display his works. 

His doctors will help him process any feedback he receives while documenting those discussions related to his writings and memorabilia.

Friedman wrote: ‘If clinically indicated, they may terminate Mr Hinckley’s ability to publicly display his creative works.’ 

The decision came after he submitted the request as part of a violence risk assessment following his release four years ago. 

On the campaign trail in 2016, Donald Trump said Hinckley shouldn’t be released.

Barry Levine, who represents Hinckley, said at a September court hearing that Hinckley should eventually be granted unconditional release. 

Levine said that doctors have found that Hinckley ‘has sufficiently recovered his sanity and will not, in the reasonable future, be a danger to himself or others.’

‘I create things I think are good and, like any other artist, I would like to profit from it and contribute more to my family,’ Hinckley said. 

‘I feel like I could help my mother and brother out if I could make money from my art.’ 

He lives with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, although in 2018 he was allowed to live anywhere within 75km of that home and drive a car. 

Hinckley has told doctors over the years that he regrets not being able to show or sell his paintings, most of which are landscapes, according to previously filed court documents. 

His room is decorated with paintings he has made of houses and cats. 

When then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Tucson by Jared Lee Loughner in January 2011, Hinckley vented frustration about being unable to change the public’s perception.

‘Wow. Is that how people see me?’ he told doctors. ‘I don’t have a microphone in my hand. I don’t have the video camera. So no one can hear my music.  

In this photo taken March 18, 2015, the signature on a painting by John Hinckley is seen in Hampton, Virginia Now he can publicly attach his name to his work and make a profit

In this photo taken March 18, 2015, the signature on a painting by John Hinckley is seen in Hampton, Virginia Now he can publicly attach his name to his work and make a profit

In this photo taken March 18, 2015, the signature on a painting by John Hinckley is seen in Hampton, Virginia Now he can publicly attach his name to his work and make a profit

Pictured: John Hinckley Jr. arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington on November 18, 2003

Pictured: John Hinckley Jr. arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington on November 18, 2003

Pictured: John Hinckley Jr. arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington on November 18, 2003

James Brady and a police officer are seen lying on the ground after being shot while the suspect John Hinckley Jr. is apprehended (right) moments after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, Washington DC, March 30, 1981

James Brady and a police officer are seen lying on the ground after being shot while the suspect John Hinckley Jr. is apprehended (right) moments after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, Washington DC, March 30, 1981

James Brady and a police officer are seen lying on the ground after being shot while the suspect John Hinckley Jr. is apprehended (right) moments after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, Washington DC, March 30, 1981

Hinckley agreed to hand over profits up to $2.9million for anything related to his life story. The money would go to the families of three people injured in the assassination attempt outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C.

Hinckley agreed to hand over profits up to $2.9million for anything related to his life story. The money would go to the families of three people injured in the assassination attempt outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C.

Hinckley agreed to hand over profits up to $2.9million for anything related to his life story. The money would go to the families of three people injured in the assassination attempt outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C. 

‘No one can see my art. I have these other aspects of my life that no one knows about. 

‘I’m an artist. I’m a musician. Nobody knows that. They just see me as the guy who tried to kill Reagan.’ 

Entries from Hinckley Jr.’s diary reveal he occasionally ‘regretted’ his 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan, but he felt ‘accomplished and satisfied’ that he tried.

This picture was taken in front of the White House before Hinckley attempted to assassinate US President Ronald Reagan

This picture was taken in front of the White House before Hinckley attempted to assassinate US President Ronald Reagan

This picture was taken in front of the White House before Hinckley attempted to assassinate US President Ronald Reagan

Hinckley was 25 when he shot and wounded Reagan outside a Washington hotel in 1981

Hinckley was 25 when he shot and wounded Reagan outside a Washington hotel in 1981

Hinckley was 25 when he shot and wounded Reagan outside a Washington hotel in 1981

The New York Times reports that Hinckley agreed to hand over profits up to $2.9million for anything related to his life story. The money would go to the families of three people injured in the assassination attempt. 

The shooting also paralyzed press secretary James Brady – who sustained permanent brain damage and died in 2014. Police officer Thomas Delahanty and Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy were also wounded.  

Levine said ‘the civil settlement does not bar the sale of any of Hinckley’s works.

‘A lot of people think he has a lot of talents,’ Levine said. ‘And now for the first time his talent will be shown under his own name. And we’ll see what it will fetch.’

The order left many restrictions in place. For instance, Hinckley is still barred from owning a gun or using alcohol and drugs.

And he is not allowed to contact the media, actress Jodie Foster or members of the Reagan and Brady families. 

Jo Ann Hinckley is seen in 2014 before her son was permitted to live with her in Virginia. Hinckley said he thinks money earned from selling his work could help his mother and brother

Jo Ann Hinckley is seen in 2014 before her son was permitted to live with her in Virginia. Hinckley said he thinks money earned from selling his work could help his mother and brother

Jo Ann Hinckley is seen in 2014 before her son was permitted to live with her in Virginia. Hinckley said he thinks money earned from selling his work could help his mother and brother

He spent decades living at a psychiatric hospital before gradually spending more and more time with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, moving in with her permanently in 2016. Pictured: John Hinckley gets into his mother's car in front of a recreation center in Williamsburg, Virginia, on March 19, 2015

He spent decades living at a psychiatric hospital before gradually spending more and more time with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, moving in with her permanently in 2016. Pictured: John Hinckley gets into his mother's car in front of a recreation center in Williamsburg, Virginia, on March 19, 2015

He spent decades living at a psychiatric hospital before gradually spending more and more time with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, moving in with her permanently in 2016. Pictured: John Hinckley gets into his mother’s car in front of a recreation center in Williamsburg, Virginia, on March 19, 2015



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