Leonard Skinner, 77, a high school physical education teacher who was the improbable namesake of the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died yesterday.
In the late 1960s, Mr. Skinner was the by-the-books gym teacher at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, where he had a reputation as a stickler for personal appearance.
One day, Mr. Skinner sent a smart-aleck student named Ronnie Van Zant to the principal's office because his hair was touching his collar -- a flagrant violation of the school's dress code.
(Van Zant and his cohorts would sometimes use Vaseline to slick down their hair in order to fool Mr. Skinner. It didn't work.)
Van Zant, who was later suspended from the school for other rules violations, decided to get back at his physical education teacher by renaming "One Percent," his fledgling rock band "Lynyrd Skynyrd."
Shortly after the release of their 1973 album, "(pronounced leh-nerd skin-nerd)," Lynyrd Skynyrd became one of the most in-demand acts of the 1970s, playing such signature hits as "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Free Bird."