‘Time To Rock And Roll’: Would-Be Reagan Assassin John Hinckley Freed, Announces Music Debut
4/10/81-Washington, DC: John Hinckley, Jr. (center), the man charged with the attempted murder of President Reagan, now finds himself the center of Federal protection, March 30th, as he is driven away from U.S. District Court. Hinckley was seated in the center seat of a nine-seat section station with agents assigned to protect him, seated in front, alongside, and behind him. Ph: John Full
Bettmann / Contributor via Getty Images

John Hinckley Jr. — the man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981 — began a full, unconditional release on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman announced in September that he was prepared to release Hinckley on June 15 if he “continued to do well,” according to the Associated Press. A hearing two weeks ago confirmed those plans.

“After 41 years 2 months and 15 days, FREEDOM AT LAST!!!” he posted to his Twitter account.

Hinckley attacked Reagan on March 30, 1981, with a revolver in an attempt to gain the attention of actress Jodie Foster. The commander-in-chief was “wounded when one of the bullets ricocheted off of the limousine, striking him under the left armpit” and sending him to the hospital for 12 days, according to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Press Secretary James Brady, Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy, and policeman Thomas Delahanty were also wounded during the shooting. Brady — for whom the White House briefing room is named — was partially paralyzed for the rest of his life due to the attack.

Hinckley was found guilty by reason of insanity and initially sent to a mental hospital. “But starting in 2003 Friedman began allowing Hinckley to live for longer stretches in the community with requirements like attending therapy and restrictions on where he can travel,” the AP reported.

In 2016, Hinckley was granted permission to live full-time with his mother. “Still, he was required to attend individual and group therapy sessions, was barred from talking to the media and could only travel within a limited area,” the outlet added. “Secret Service would also periodically follow him.”

Beyond his attempted assassination of Reagan, Hinckley gained attention in 2021 for his YouTube channel, where he has “garnered thousands of views and more than 8,000 subscribers for his original songs and covers of Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley tunes,” Rolling Stone reported. “But even though Hinckley’s content is fairly innocuous, there’s undeniably something more than a little bit iffy about a convicted presidential assassin crooning plaintive love tunes on social media.”

In the days preceding his release, Hinckley appeared to be preparing for an entrance into the music world. Over the past two weeks, he has invited social media followers to “book a show or other offers” by contacting him via email.

“A big thank you to everyone who helped me get my unconditional release,” Hinckley said in another tweet. “What a long strange trip it has been. Now it’s time to rock and roll.”

“I will be singing 17 songs at my show in Brooklyn, NY. on July 8,” Hinckley posted along with a selfie. “All originals.”

However, Market Hotel — the venue that was slated to host the sold-out concert — announced on Wednesday that it would cancel the show.

“If we were going to host an event for the principle, and potentially put others at risk in doing so, it shouldn’t be for some stunt booking — no offense to the artist,” the venue wrote in a statement. “We might feel differently if we believed the music was important and transcended the infamy, but that’s just not the case here (though any artist can get there — even someone who committed awful crimes and suffered mental illness).”

Barry Levine, Hinckley’s lawyer, told Rolling Stone that Hinckley “has put his music on YouTube in order to put his music in the public sphere.”

“He is grateful for the nice comments he has received,” Levine said. “He is working on an album and will be looking for a label.”

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