The "Real" Lynryd Skynyrd Dies

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views
The legendary Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd got its name from a real-life man named Leonard Skinner. Well, he died on Monday at age 77. He suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

Skinner was a basketball coach and gym teacher at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville in the late 1960s, when one day he sent a group of students to the principal's office because their hair was too long.

"It was against the school rules," Skinner said during an interview last year. "I don't particularly like long hair on men, but again, it wasn't my rule."

Those students later formed the band, using Skinner's name -- changing it to include lots of "y's."

Skinner forgot about the incident until a few years later when his saw his son (also named Leonard Skinner) listening to an album called "Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd." The son says his dad wasn't particularly impressed.

However, he later came to terms with it, and made friends with the band members. They performed at a bar Skinner owned, and he also introduced them at a concert.

As the years went on, the legend of the story grew to claim Skinner was tough on the band members or that he even kicked them out of school. Skinner said such talk always bothered him.

"He made a lot of new friends," his daughter Susie Moore said. "That in itself really brought a lot of wonderful people in our family's lives, simply because they were Lynyrd Skynyrd fans, and they wanted to meet Dad. They loved him. They're part of our extended family now."

The band became popular in the mid-1970s, with hits such as "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Free Bird." Three of the band members, including lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, were killed in a 1977 plane crash. The band regrouped and continues to perform today.