Leonard Skinner aka Lynard Skynard Dies..

Posted by: Daniel R. Lehrman Posted in: Guitar Players

How many people know how one of my favorite bands, Lynard Skynard got their name? It evaded me and perplexed me at times until I heard the news on NPR yesterday. What I heard was Lynard Skynard died. What? Holy cow, that sucks. Then the real story behind the name was revealed.

Here we go. Leonard Skinner, 77, a high school physical education teacher who was the unusual namesake of the rock band Lynard Skynard, died yesterday.

In the late 1960s, Mr. Skinner was the ”GI Joe” gym teacher [and basketball coach] at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, where he had a reputation as a stickler for dress codes.

I want to interrupt for a second with part a short interview with Leonard Skinner Jr. I heard on NPR last night; Mr skinner Jr. [I will refer tho him as Jr.] was explaining that his dad was a pure flattop haircut guy. He was the High School basketball coach and Ronnie Van Zant was on the team.
Well, Mr Skinner Sr. felt that everyone on his team should have a nice haircut like his, so when Van Zant finally irritated Mr. Skinner enough, he was sent to the principles office. He did not say if Van Zant got a haircut or not.

Here is an excerpt from the NPR interview with Skinner Jr.:
GREENE: Well, how did your father actually find out that his name had been appropriated by this band? Did anyone from the band actually ask?
Mr. SKINNER: Well, actually, he got out of coaching. And I remember, I was in high school and I’m listening to “Pronounced,” you know? And I’d go, wow, that’s really close to my name. And I remember Dad walking by the hall and, what is that noise you’re listening to?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. SKINNER: And, you know, I’m young, now. I’m, I guess, 16 or so. And when the second album came out, they called his real estate company and asked permission to put a picture of his real estate sign on the inside cover of the “Second Helping” album. We had a home extension at the house. He had a one-man real estate company, just starting out. And the folks are ringing at 5 o’clock in the morning and…
GREENE: So the album had the phone number on it and people just started calling you to see who would pick up.
Mr. SKINNER: They always – so much he had to take the home extension out of the house…
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. SKINNER: …and put a recorder at the office (unintelligible)…
GREENE: People just wanted to reach and – they wanted to reach and talk to Leonard Skinner.
Mr. SKINNER: Yeah, yeah. Drunk at 5 a.m. Well, here. I don’t what time it was in wherever they were, but…
(Soundbite of laughter)
To Read or listen to the whole interview with Leonard Skinner JR .

One day, Mr. Skinner sent a wise guy student named Ronnie Van Zant to the principal’s office because his hair was to long — a violation of the school’s dress code.

Van Zant, ¬†was later suspended from the school for other rules issues. He later decided to get back at his Mr Skinner by renaming “One Percent,” his rock band at the time to “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 all time classic hits as “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird.”

That’s about it. We listened to a lot of Lynard Skynard as a teenager, like the Allman Brothers, southern rock kicked ass and still does. I actually know how to play Sweet Home Alabama, my friend Alan taught it to me.

Do you have favorite Lynard Skynard song? If you have any memories of the band–or the man–please leave them below. GuitarPlayersCenter.com

5 Responses to Leonard Skinner aka Lynard Skynard Dies..

  1. I didn’t how Lynard Skynard came upon their name before reading your article. It sounds like Van Zant may have held a grudge for longer than a guy usually does. Synard was a real popular band when I was growing up, and they created some long enduring tunes back in the 70′s.

  2. nice

  3. Great information and brill site. Love Sweet Home Alabma – great song to play and not too difficult. I believe it was written in answer to a Neil Young song – can’t remeber whether it was Southern Man or Alabma. Someone will know. Well done Danny – great work.

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