John Hinckley Jr., the gunman who shot President Ronald Reagan in an assassination attempt has recently gained thousands of views on YouTube with his singing and guitar playing.
Hinckley, now 66 years old, won a lengthy court battle last year, freeing him to publicly display his music, writings and other art, and potentially make a living in the recording industry.
Hinckley has since published a half-dozen videos to a YouTube channel bearing his real name. It started with a performance of an original song called “Majesty of Love.”
“When every couple settles down, goodness will be found, this is the majesty of love,” he sings over acoustic guitar playing. “The world is still in so much pain, but we have much to gain, this is the majesty of love.”
Of the six performances Hinckley has posted to his Youtube account since December, four are original songs. Two are covers – one of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and one of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
On March 30, 1981, Hinckley opened fire at Reagan outside a Washington, DC, hotel.
Reagan was hti by a round in the chest, and three others were wounded, including press secretary James Brady, who remained partially paralyzed for the rest of his life.
Reagan was hospitalized for nearly two weeks, but he survived.
Hinckley had an obsession with the movie “Taxi Driver” and likened himself to Robert De Niro’s lone-wolf hack, Travis Bickle. Hinckley also fixated on Jodi Foster, who portrayed a child prostitute in the film.
In the years leading up to the assassination attempt, Hinckley stalked Foster and attempted to gain her attention before ultimately plotting to kill the president — similar to Bickle’s aborted bid to murder a fictitious political candidate in the movie.
Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was committed to a psychiatric institution where he spent 35 years. In 2016, Hinckley was cleared to move in with his mother in Virginia. Two years later, he was allowed to live on his own.
Viewers bombarded the comment section on Hinckley’s Youtube channel.
“This is definitely a more constructive way to get Jodi [sic] Foster’s attention,” one user said.
“Might’ve failed assassination but you didn’t fail to hit those beats,” another said.
Others were pleasantly surprised by Hinckley’s tunes.
“When I heard you were released and making songs on YouTube I thought it was a joke, but far out this was such a beautiful song,” wrote one fan. “You are very talented, please make more.”
Added another, “came for the meme, stayed because it’s actually pretty good.”