Devo Don't Seem to Care If Would-Be Reagan Assassin John Hinckley Jr. Gets His Royalty Cheques

"We're not talking about a lot of money here," says Gerald V. Casale
Devo Don't Seem to Care If Would-Be Reagan Assassin John Hinckley Jr. Gets His Royalty Cheques
Back in 1982, former US president Ronald Reagan's would-be assassin, John Hinckley Jr., wrote a poem to Jodie Foster, whom he was apparently trying to impress when he shot Reagan and three others in Washington, DC in 1981. Excerpts from that poem would go on to be included in Devo's "I Desire," a song that Hinckley is now claiming he hasn't seen a cent in royalties for.

Devo's Gerald V. Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh recently discussed the alleged missing payments in an interview with Newsweek, explaining that it's not really any of their business if he gets paid, as the disbursement of royalties is handled by the record companies, publishing companies and performing rights organizations — not the band.

Additionally, Casale told Newsweek that he understands as a credited co-writer on the track, Hinckley was set up to receive royalties through his own publishing company, and whatever amount was owed "should have been going straight to him."

"It's possible that he's not lying," said Casale. "We're not talking about a lot of money here. Believe me, it wasn't a hit. But certainly, it's not because of Devo that he didn't get his money."

As the story goes, the group were "blown away by the poetic sociopathy" of Hinckley's poem, which was published in a tabloid following the assassination attempt on Reagan. Once they got Hinckley's permission to use two verses from the poem, Devo went on to get approval from Foster as well. 

"We couldn't believe how inspired and pathological the poetry was, given what he had done," said Casale. "And this poetry was all love poems to Jodie Foster."

Casale went on to explain that their reinterpretation of the verses "completely twisted [Hinckley's] meaning ... on [its] head. So that the [narrator] is telling the girl … to run from him because he's a dangerous guy."

Speaking with Rolling Stone, Mothersbaugh noted that the inclusion of Hinckley's poem in the track was maybe not "the best career move you could make," revealing that Devo "had the FBI calling up and threatening" them following its release.

On July 27, 2016, a federal judge ruled that Hinckley could be released from St. Elizabeths Hospital, where had remained under institutional psychiatric care for three decades. He is now an avid YouTube and Twitter user. 

Hear Devo's "I Desire" below.