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Leonard Skinner, Namesake of "Lynyrd Skynyrd," Dies

Leonard Skinner, 77, a high school physical education teacher who was the improbable namesake of the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died yesterday. You can read his full obituary here.

In the late 1960s, Mr. Skinner was the by-the-books gym teacher at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, where he had a reputation as a stickler for personal appearance.

One day, Mr. Skinner sent a smart-aleck student named Ronnie Van Zant to the principal's office because his hair was touching his collar -- a flagrant violation of the school's dress code.

(Van Zant and his cohorts would sometimes use Vaseline to slick down their hair in order to fool Mr. Skinner. It didn't work.)

Van Zant, who was later suspended from the school for other rules violations, decided to get back at his physical education teacher by renaming "One Percent," his fledgling rock band "Lynyrd Skynyrd."

Shortly after the release of their 1973 album, "(pronounced leh-nerd skin-nerd)," Lynyrd Skynyrd became one of the most in-demand acts of the 1970s, playing such signature hits as "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Free Bird."

They played to sprawling crowds at concerts with the Confederate flag as a backdrop -- an homage to their Southern roots.

What's your favorite Skynyrd song? If you have any memories of the band--or the man--please leave them below.

Update: Here is a quote from Lynyrd Skynyrd's Garry Rossington provided by his management company.

"Coach Skinner had such a profound impact on our youth that ultimately led us to naming the band, which you know as Lynyrd Skynyrd, after him. Looking back, I cannot imagine it any other way. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time."

By T. Rees Shapiro  | September 21, 2010; 10:06 AM ET
Categories:  T. Rees Shapiro  | Tags:  Leonard Skinner, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ronnie Van Zant, sweet home alabama  
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Street Survivors is the one album I would have if "on a desert island."

Needle and Spoon, Tuesdays Gone, the list goes on......Long Live Lynyrd Skynyrd....

Posted by: gsriderandskier | September 21, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

This is news? Sheesh, the Post is really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

All Lynryd Skynyrd music sucks. Even worse, they can't spell.

Posted by: ennepe68 | September 21, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Gimme Three Steps....classic.

Posted by: pswift00 | September 21, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd was a part of my youth:

"One More From the Road" (live album). I listened to this more than "Frampton Comes Alive". I love "Street Survivors". I have the original vinyl with the flames in the background behind the band.

RIP Mr Skinner

Posted by: rusty6 | September 21, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: milfordone | September 21, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Hey ennepe68,

YOU suck! I can only hope your someone slurs your obit in kind.

Posted by: Rockman83 | September 21, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

My favorite song has got to be "Gimme Three Steps"!

Posted by: dgb123 | September 21, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Tuesday's Gone with the wind

Posted by: lhitchcock2 | September 21, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Leonard Skinner is also the name of a character in that "Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda" camp song - and so I assumed the band's name was from that. What gives?

Posted by: Urnesto | September 21, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Different Leonard Skinner. Camp Grenada is up north.

BTW, that L.S. ... well ... got food poisoning after dinner and was never heard from again. Sad. (sigh)

Posted by: reddog278 | September 21, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Hey ennepe68,

YOU suck! I can only hope your someone slurs your obit in kind.

Posted by: Rockman83


Really, ennepe68, why bother posting? Why even read the article?

Anyway, a 50-yr-old Washingtonian who was born and raised in Alabama....very tough to point to a favorite since so many were so good. In addition to some already mentioned;

Saturday Night Special
Call Me The Breeze
Workin' for MCA
Needle and the Spoon

Posted by: postgettingworse | September 21, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I always come back to Tuesday's Gone and The Ballad of Curtis Loew.

Posted by: sleastacks | September 21, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't a fan back in the day, but now, when I hear cuts beyond Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama, I find there's more than mindless southern boogie going on. Besides,if Skynyrd is good enough for the Drive By Truckers, they're good enough for me.

Posted by: jhmaiers | September 21, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Hey ennepe68,

Just know this..."The Southern man don't need you around anyhow"

Posted by: mviker | September 22, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

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