Leonard Skinner


Last night I asked the question: “Lynard Skynard was named after a guy named Leonard Skinner. Who was Leonard Skinner?” Leonard Skinner (above, in black shirt) was their high school gym teacher in Jacksonville. And, rumor has it, he regularly suspended them for having long hair. Well, Leonard recently retired from teaching, and here’s a write up about him in the Jacksonville paper, including a bit of history of his relationship with the band.

The band named itself in a smart-aleck tribute to the basketball coach and gym teacher at Robert E. Lee High School, the tough guy who sent some of the musicians to the assistant principal’s office because their hair was too long – it touched their collars in the back.

It was apparently a big deal to them. To Skinner, though? Not so much. Even as the band was making it big in the ’70s, he admitted he didn’t recall their names or faces: He remembered the athletes he coached, not the longhairs.

It rankled him then, and it rankles him now, that some say he was too tough on them, or that it was he who kicked Skynyrd out of school. They were breaking the school dress code, after all. And he was just doing his job by sending them to the office – if they were expelled or suspended after they got to the office, it wasn’t his doing.

“It was against the school rules. I don’t particularly like long hair on men, but again, it wasn’t my rule,” he says…Ever since, Leonard Skinner has been tied to the band – and is forever having to take out his billfold to show his ID to people who don’t believe that that’s his real name.

So perhaps he’s warmed up to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s music after all these decades?

“No,” he says flatly, resisting a golden opportunity to play nice. “I don’t. I don’t like rock ‘n’ roll music.”

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