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John Hinckley, Reagan’s attempted assassin, to play first concert in Bushwick

hinckley
John Hinckley performs his original song “You and I Are Free” on his YouTube channel.
Screenshot via YouTube

He’s shooting for the stars!

John Hinckley Jr., who attempted to assassinate then-President Ronald Reagan in 1981, is trying his luck at a career as a musician after being released from over three decades of confinement in psychiatric care, booking his first gig this summer at the Market Hotel in Bushwick.

“Big news!! I will be performing on July 8 at the Market Hotel in Brooklyn, NY,” Hinckley said on Twitter. “Get your tickets while you can.”

The July 8 performance, featuring Hinckley and “special guests,” will showcase Hinckley’s singing, songwriting, and guitar-playing skills that he developed while confined at St. Elizabeth’s Psychiatric Hospital in Washington DC. Hinckley is set to be unconditionally released from remaining restrictions this June, six years after he was released from St. Elizabeth’s into the care of his mother.

A judge had previously ruled the 66-year-old Hinckley not to be a threat to society any longer, and in 2020 he was allowed to publicly showcase his music and art for the first time. Hinckley has since released original compositions and cover songs on his YouTube channel and on streaming services, and said last year that he intends to release a 14-song LP on a new record label of his own creation, Emporia Records. His musical idols include Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley.

Hinckley tried to kill Reagan in 1981 in an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster, with whom he had become transfixed after watching Martin Scorsese’s 1976 film Taxi Driver, where Foster plays a child prostitute. Robert de Niro’s character in that film attempts to assassinate a presidential candidate. Hinckley stalked both Foster and the president in the years leading up to the assassination attempt.

On March 30, 1981, Hinckley shot at Reagan six times outside the Washington DC Hilton, hitting the president, press secretary James Brady, DC Police Officer Thomas Delahanty, and Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy. Brady sustained the most serious injuries, causing permanent paralysis; when he died 33 years later in 2014, his death was ruled a homicide and the result of the 1981 shooting.

The following year, a jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity, having been found to suffer from a number of untreated psychiatric disorders.

Tickets for Hinckley’s July performance cost $20 and are on sale on the ticketing platform Venue Pilot. Masks and proof-of-vaccination are required. Hinckley declined to be interviewed through his agent, who said the musician is not speaking to the press before his performance.

Correction (5:00 pm): A previous version of this article erroneously stated that the Market Hotel is in Williamsburg. It is in Bushwick. We regret the error.

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