Leonard Skinner RIP: The Lynyrd Skynyrd-inspiring gym teacher dies at the age of 77

Lynyrd-Skynyrd-SkinnerImage Credit: Jon M. Fletcher/The Florida Times/AP; Peter Mazel/RetnaPhysical education instructor and basketball coach Leonard Skinner, who inspired the name of southern-rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd, died in his sleep early this morning, according to the Florida Times-Union. Skinner was 77 and was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

In 1966, Skinner joined the staff of Robert E. Lee high school in Jacksonville, Fla., where his student charges included future Skynyrd members Bob Burns and Gary Rossington, the latter of whom was suspended after the gym teacher sent him to the assistant principal for wearing his hair too long. Over time, Burns, Rossington, and the rest of their band—which was then called the One Percent—developed a series of running in-jokes about the strict Skinner. Ultimately the group decided to pay tongue-in-cheek homage to the teacher by renaming themselves “Lynyrd Skynyrd.”

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Comments (12 total) Add your comment
  • TS

    RIP ya goofy old coot

  • John

    Good Lord! I was just wondering yesterday whatever happened to this guy.

  • Colonel Geritol

    Rest In peace Leonard,

    And thanks for helping create one of the greatest rock bans there ever was.


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  • Guy

    My respects to his family, I would like to think his family is proud that his name will live on in history associated to some of the very best music of all time.

  • WD

    My favorite version of Freebird is on yoo toob.

  • vern

    lame: nel young is a legend

  • david owens

    it’s too bad to see him go.there is’nt verry many of the band or friends that help them get started left.but as long as we have the radio records,cassettes,and discs the legacy and the music will live on for ever,fly the free bird!

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