If Leonard Skinner’s name sounds an awful lot like the name of the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, we’d say you’re onto something. The 77-year old former gym teacher (who sadly, died today) was made famous as the archetypal naysaying old timer who sent the soon-to-be rockstars to the principal’s office and consequently inspired their band name. (He also famously told them to get their hair cut.)
According to those who knew him, Skinner was never fully comfortable with his lifelong association with the band—best known for their songs, Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird—but later grew to accept it. “He made a lot of new friends,” said Skinner’s daughter, Susie Moore.
“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.”
Though he was forced to play the character of the “establishment” to contrast with the band’s redneck rebel character, Skinner tended to play along. When he switched careers to become a property salesman, he gave the band permission to use his ‘Leonard Skinner Realty’ sign for the cover of their third album, Nuthin’ Fancy, in 1975.
“I don’t like to consider myself an evil guy and I don’t think I was,” he said.
We don’t either, Mr. Skinner.