John Hinckley Jr, the man who attempted to assassinate US president Ronald Reagan, has made a small catalogue of recorded songs available on Spotify and other streaming services.
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The publishing of his catalogue follows a ruling from October 2020, in which a judge allowed Hinckley to publicly display his writings, artwork and music.
In March 1981, Hinckley shot and severely wounded US president Ronald Reagan in an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster, with whom he had an obsessive fixation. Hinckley also paralyzed press secretary James Brady in the attack and wounded a police officer and a Secret Service agent. Reagan was hit by a ricochet, which pierced his lung and caused it to partially collapse. He was treated immediately, and doctors afterwards noted how close to death he had come.
Hinckley had obsessively stalked Foster after seeing her performance in the 1976 film Taxi Driver, in which she plays a sexually trafficked 12-year-old child. His attempts to contact Foster having failed, he planned to get her attention by assassinating the president. He first trailed Jimmy Carter around the country, changing his target to Ronald Reagan once he was elected.
His shooting of Reagan happened outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity of a number of charges, including attempted assassination and possession of an unlicensed firearm. When James Brady died in 2014, his death was ruled a homicide, however, Hinckley’s previous insanity verdict effectively ruled out a retrial.
Hinckley lived in a psychiatric hospital until 2016. On 27 July of that year, Hinckley was declared to “not be a danger to himself or to others if released on full-time convalescent leave,” with a number of prohibitions and requirements.
Last month, it was announced that he will be granted unconditional release, beginning in June of next year. Legal representatives for Hinckley stated doctors had found he has “sufficiently recovered his sanity and will not, in the reasonable future, be a danger to himself or others.”
Music and painting have reportedly been a part of Hinckley’s therapy. Shortly after he was allowed to exhibit his work under his own name, he started a YouTube channel where he uploaded videos of his original songs and some covers.
The releases of his original material on streaming services are of higher production value than these videos, with Hinckley calling them “studio-quality recordings” in a YouTube video announcing the release. The tracks themselves are folk songs, consisting mainly of acoustic guitar, Hinckley’s singing and some sparse percussion.
You can hear Hinckley’s music below or at his Spotify page here.