Devo Respond To John Hinckley Jr.’s Claim He Hasn’t Seen Any Royalties From Song He Co-Wrote With Them

David McNew/Getty Images

Devo Respond To John Hinckley Jr.’s Claim He Hasn’t Seen Any Royalties From Song He Co-Wrote With Them

David McNew/Getty Images

Devo have responded to John Hinckley Jr.’s claim that he was never paid royalties for a song he “co-wrote” with the band. Hinckley, of course, is the the would-be assassin of former President Ronald Reagan. In 1981, he shot the president and three others, but was ultimately found not guilty by reason of insanity and was sentenced to a psychiatric institution. Hinckley had been reacclimating to society since some restrictions on him were lifted in 2016, and just last month was granted full unconditional release, which means he is now allowed on social media. “Back in 1982 I co-wrote a song with DEVO called ‘I Desire,” Hinckley tweeted earlier this week. “It is on their album Oh No, It’s DEVO. The album is still selling worldwide, especially in Japan and Europe. I haven’t seen royalties in 35 years. What’s the deal?”

In response, Devo’s Gerald Casale told Newsweek that it was “always the unpleasant things that never go away,” while also noting that the band did not determine how publishing royalties were dispersed. “It’s possible that he’s not lying,” Casale added. “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.”

Casale also talked about the song’s genesis. “I Desire” does include verses from a love poem Hinckley wrote for Jodie Foster, with whom he was obsessed (Hinckley entire motive for attempting to assassinate Reagan was to impress Foster). Following the assassination attempt, a tabloid published the poem. Casale said that the band had been “blown away by the poetic sociopathy” of Hinckley’s poetry, and he showed it to bandmate Mark Mothersbaugh.

At the time, Casale said that Devo did get permission from Hinckley as well as Foster to use the verse in the song, with the caveat that Devo was not “endorsing” Hinckley or what he’d done.

“We did take two verses from one love poem and then I wrote subsequent verses that completely twisted the meaning of his verses on their head,” he said. “So that the [narrator] is telling the girl… to run from him because he’s a dangerous guy.”

These days, Hinckley has been tweeting about wanting to focus on his music career. “I like the early Beatles, early Elvis, early Bob Dylan and early Rolling Stones,” he wrote on October 21. “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel is a great album. Nirvana did some good stuff.”

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