Lynyrd Skynyrd


Before "Sweet Home Alabama," a no-nonsense high school gym teacher in Florida gave Lynyrd Skynyrd its edge.

Leonard Skinner, whose rule against boys in his class having long hair stuck in the band members' craw and ultimately inspired their singular name, died in his sleep Monday at a nursing home in Jacksonville, according to his daughter. He was 77 and had Alzheimer's disease.

In an interview with the Florida Times-Union last year, the retired teacher and basketball coach admitted to sending Gary Rossington and a few shaggy-headed others to the principal's office because they were violating the school's no-long-hair policy, but he said the rumor that he got the guys kicked out of school was totally false.

While not a big fan himself—"What the hell kind of noise are you listening to?" he asked his Skynyrd-spinning son once—Skinner ultimately made friends with a few of the band members and, according to his family, was always gracious to the Lynyrd Skynyrd fans who wanted to meet the band's namesake.


Pay tribute to other notable names we've lost in 2010.

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