Lynyrd Skynyrd in concert - New Brockton, Alab...
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Sometimes you give some thought to why a band picked a specific name, other times not so much. I came across an article paying tribute to Leonard Skinner, the phys-ed coach and teacher in Jacksonville, Florida who became the inspiration behind the band name, Lynyrd Skynyrd and recently passed away after suffering from Alzheimers.

The man, Leonard Skinner was a high school coach and teacher that was a stickler for hygiene and stringently enforced the school’s rules regarding males and long hair. He had a reputation for sending boys to the principal’s office when their hair didn’t meet school guidelines. One of his students, Ronnie Van Zant and Gary Rossington, who formed the band that was to become Lynyrd Skynyrd, were often the recipients of Mr. Skinner’s enforcement of personal appearance rules. The members of the band , years later thought it would be a fun tongue-in-cheek tribute to Van Zant’s former coach to name the band after him.

A statement released by Gary Rossington, the surviving member of the original band stated:

“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.”

According to an article on jacksonville.com Skinner did not know for a long while that a band formed using his name. When he did find out, he goodnaturedly embraced it, becoming a bit of a celebrity in his own right, often being asked to show his driver’s license to prove that his name was indeed Leonard Skinner. After he retired, the coach opened a bar and the band came to pay him a visit, the beginning of a long friendship.

Skinner permitted the band to use a photo of his Leonard Skinner Realty sign for the inside of their third album cover. It is reported that many of the band’s fans would call the number listed on the sign, get Mr. Skinner and be very impressed to speak to him.

At one point, years after the band formed, they asked Skinner to come on stage at a concert and introduce the band. According to the article, it appears that Skinner took his fame very goodnaturedly.

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