Fans of 1970s classic rock, take note: Leonard Skinner passed away early Monday morning at 77. He was the hardass Jacksonville, FL gym teacher who made high school life hell for longhairs and future musicians Bob Burns and Gary Rossington and prompted them to name their band “Lynrd Skynrd” in twisted tribute.
Now’s the time to cue the “rock n’ roll will never die” anthems and note that Skinner’s name will live in perpetuity connected to the kind of raucous music he hated. (Later in life he would happily sign his autograph to Skynrd merchandise). I happen to be a big fan of many classic rock bands – though not necessarily Lynrd Skynrd – but I’m also a fan of scowling curmudgeons who shout “Get off my lawn!” at least five times a day. (The way things are going, I will complete my transition to “gripey old bastard” in about three years). So, like, let this blow yer mind, man: If Mr. Skinner hadn’t been around to lambast “kids today,” would Lynrd Skynrd have ever existed, let alone survived as a creaky rock tribute act now in its third or fourth touring incarnation? Methinks not.
So here’s to you, Mr. Skinner. One of the supreme pleasures of getting old is complaining about how today’s youth culture sucks. I hope you went to that great VFW hall in the sky where they listen to the Benny Goodman Orchestra and kvetch about the civilization-destroying effects of John and Paul’s mop tops.