Teacher who saved Lynyrd Skynyrd from calling themselves The Noble Five

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Leonard Skinner, the PE teacher who inspired the name of the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died in Florida. He was 77.

Skinner, who had Alzheimer’s disease, was working at Robert E Lee high school in Jacksonville in the 1960s when he sent a group of pupils to the principal’s office because their hair was too long. They later formed a band, using a variation of Skinner’s name. The band, whose hits included Sweet Home Alabama, became popular in the mid-1970s. Skinner’s children said their father was never completely comfortable with being linked to the band but grew to embrace it.
Associated Press 22 September 2010

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Leonard Skinner shows his sheer delight at being given a copy of his namesakes’ third album, Nuthin’ Fancy, in 1975.

The band were initially called Me, You and Him, and then The Noble Five, so Mr Skinner did them a favour. (Free Bird, performed by Me, You and Him?) Drummer Bob Burns claimed credit for choosing the name, according to his obituary in The Times (26 May 2015): “We were thinking of names for the band and I started laughing my ass off and said ‘Leonard Skinner’. They went ‘Where?’ And I said ‘No, for the name of the band’ and they busted out laughing.” The title of the band’s first album, in 1973, offered the unhelpful advice “pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd”.

 

 

 

Last modified: July 12, 2016

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