Tuesday, September 21, 2010

R.I.P. Simple Man

Leonard Skinner, the high school gym teacher who inspired the band name Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died at age 77 in a Riverside, Florida nursing home.

Skinner, born Forby Leonard Skinner, never intended to become a piece of rock-and-roll history. He was simply enforcing a dress code at Robert E. Lee High School in the late 1960s when he fatefully sent a few teenagers to the principal's office for violating new rules about hair length. "The hair had to be two fingers above the eyebrows, couldn't touch the collar," Skinner explained in an interview several years ago. "One of the ones I sent down was in this band ... called the One Percent," he recalled, referring to the band that would later become Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Though he claimed to dislike rock music, Skinner gave the band permission to use a snapshot of his Leonard Skinner Realty sign on the inside album artwork for their 1975 LP "Nuthin' Fancy." Because his real work phone number was included on the placard, he wound up fielding many calls from curious fans over the years.

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