John Hinckley Jr., who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster and then spent 35 years in a psychiatric hospital, has been posting videos of himself performing love songs and other tunes on YouTube.
Hinckley, 66, went to court last year for permission to display his artwork and disseminate his music under his own name and appears to have wasted no time trying to make a different kind of name for himself.
He created a YouTube channel, where he posts covers of standards like Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind” and Elvis’ “Can’t Stop Falling in Love,” as well as a number of original songs—most of which are about romance.
In one song titled “Majesty of Love,” Hinckley strums a guitar and sings wistfully that “when every couple settles down, goodness will be found,” and “before the negativity, there’s still you and me.”
While undergoing mental health evaluations in 2018, after being released into the custody of his mother in Virginia, Hinckley admitted that he was struggling with his dating life. According to the Associated Press, members of his treatment team reportedly discussed the possibility of online dating, though some argued it was “far too risky” for him.
In the five months he has been uploading videos, he’s racked up about 1,900 subscribers, and the comments on his songs are overwhelmingly positive. “You may have missed with Reagan but this one’s a hit,” a user commented. Some posted recommendations for potential covers for him to record.
The music videos are recorded in what appears to be a bedroom decorated with a number of clocks. The channel doesn’t provide any biographical information about Hinckley or make any reference to his notorious history.
On March 30, 1981, Hinckley opened fire on Reagan outside a Washington, D.C., hotel, hitting him in the lung and wounding three other people—including press secretary James Brady, who used a wheelchair until his death in 2014, which was ruled a homicide.
During his trial, the defense argued Hinckley was mentally ill and had become obsessed with the movie Taxi Driver and Foster, whom he had stalked. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
While hospitalized, Hinckley reportedly played guitar and painted as part of his therapy. In 2011, he told his doctors he wanted to be known as more than a would-be assassin.
“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,” he said.
When he won permission to post his creations, his lawyer, Barry Levine, said he would also be allowed to profit from them.
Hinckley and his family could not be reached for comment on Monday.