News & Politics

John Hinckley Jr., the Man Who Shot Reagan, Has a YouTube Channel Where He Sings His Own Songs

After getting out of a mental hospital, he went to court for the right to publicly share his songs and art

Photo courtesy of the FBI.

John Hinckley Jr., who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan and stalked actress Jodie Foster, has found a new obsession: singing love songs and playing the guitar. Hinckley has recently gotten social media attention from  a video he posted of him sing a love song he wrote called “Majesty of Love.”

Last year, Hinckley created a YouTube channel where he posts covers and his own original songs. He has gotten 4,150 subscribers and thousands of views on his videos since he started posting five months ago. The many comments under his videos, as well as Twitter discussions about his work, have been overwhelming positive and supportive.

However, Hinckley hasn’t always been successful with his music. He has anonymously posted his music online for the past few years, but had received little feedback. In frustration, he went to court last year to request permission to post his music online under his own name. According to the Associated Press, Hinckley wants to use music to make a new name for himself. “I’m a musician. Nobody knows that,” he said. “They just see me as the guy who tried to kill Reagan.”

Hinckley tried to become a songwriter as a young adult, but his efforts were unsuccessful. He later became obsessed with the film “Taxi Driver,” and with Jodie Foster, who appeared in the movie. On March 30, 1981, Hinckley tried to murder Reagan outside a D.C. hotel, calling it a love offering to the actress. He ended up shooting Reagan in the lung and wounding three other people. Hinckley was not found not guilty for the assassination attempt by reason of insanity and was institutionalized for 35 years. After years of being able to spend several weeks a month on supervised-release at his mother’s home in Williamsburg, Va—outings that were occasionally colorful—he was finally released in 2016.

Damare Baker
Research Editor

Before becoming Research Editor, Damare Baker was an Editorial Fellow and Assistant Editor for Washingtonian. She has previously written for Voice of America and The Hill. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she studied international relations, Korean, and journalism.