Lynyrd Skynyrd is catchy and weird but the backstory behind the name is equally entertaining. The band, Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, and Gary Rossington all got started in a high school in Jacksonville.
The boys got together and started a band originally known as My Backyard. Together, with Leon Wilkeson and Billy Powell, they eventually changed the name to Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Ironically, this all got started because their gym teacher hated kids who had long-hair.
Lynyrd Skynyrd Name Came From High School
The gym teacher would often send the shaggy-headed kids to the principal’s office. He particularly loved to pick on the kids in the band, My Backyard. It was the 1960s, so several kids had long hair. Needless to say, most students didn’t like the teacher.
In one scenario, Rossington got in some trouble for having long hair. When he returned to the school, his father said his son needed long hair in order to fit in with his band. It was for financial reasons, he stated.
The PE teacher suggested the boy get a crew cut and a wig to perform. The gym teacher’s name was Leonard Skinner.
The Background Behind The Band’s Origin
In an effort to highlight their high school days, the boys got together years later and called themselves Lynyrd Skynyrd after Leonard Skinner. Thanks to their hits like “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Freebird,” shaggy hair will always live on.
“I just went along with the flow,” Skinner later told the press. “There was not much I could do about it.” In 2010, the former teacher passed away in Florida at the age of 77, but there were no hostile feelings in the ends.
“Coach Skinner had such a profound impact on our youth that ultimately led us to naming the band, which you know as Lynyrd Skynyrd, after him,” said Rossington. “Looking back, I cannot imagine it any other way.”
At the time of his death, Rossington told the press, “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”
What do you think of this hilarious story behind the band’s name?