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Leonard Skinner RIP: The Lynyrd Skynyrd-inspiring gym teacher dies at the age of 77

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Image Credit: Jon M. Fletcher/The Florida Times/AP; Peter Mazel/RetnaPhysical education instructor and basketball coach Leonard Skinner, who inspired the name of southern-rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd, died in his sleep early this morning, according to the Florida Times-Union. Skinner was 77 and was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

In 1966, Skinner joined the staff of Robert E. Lee high school in Jacksonville, Fla., where his student charges included future Skynyrd members Bob Burns and Gary Rossington, the latter of whom was suspended after the gym teacher sent him to the assistant principal for wearing his hair too long. Over time, Burns, Rossington, and the rest of their band—which was then called the One Percent—developed a series of running in-jokes about the strict Skinner. Ultimately the group decided to pay tongue-in-cheek homage to the teacher by renaming themselves “Lynyrd Skynyrd.”

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