Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lynyrd Skynyrd namesake dies

Leonard Skinner, the no-nonsense, flat-topped basketball coach and gym teacher whose name is forever linked with Jacksonville’s legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd, died in his sleep early Monday morning after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s. He was 77.

"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,” said guitarist Gary Rossington. “Looking back, I cannot imagine it any other way. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time."

The famous tale of how the southern rock kings got their name dates back to the ‘60s at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, Florida. The coach would send students to the principal’s office if he thought their hair was too long; included in the group of kids involved in this practice were some who would later form a band and decide to name it after him as a mocking tribute.

In the 70s, after his teaching days ended, Skinner went into the real estate business, and gained more notoriety after the band featured a realty lawn sign with his name and phone number on the inner sleeve of their third album, “Nuthin’ Fancy.” It wasn’t long before fans started calling Skinner at all hours to talk about the band with him.

As the years went by, Skinner eventually became friends with various members of the band.

Lynyrd Lynyrd Skynyrd

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Freebird
BBC – Old Grey Whistle Test – 1975