Celebrity Names Blog

Gym Teacher's Name Inspired Rock Band

Gym Teacher's Name Inspired Rock Band
Rama/Wiki Media Commons

Leonard Skinner has died. If that name sounds strangely familiar, here's why: in his prime, Mr. Skinner taught high school gym to future rock legends Ronnie Van Sant, Gary Rossington and Bob Burns. When Skinner enforced the school's rule prohibiting long hair, they decided to rename their rock band after him. The artists formerly known as One Percent and The Noble Five became first Leonard Skinnerd, then Lynyrd Skynyrd.

It's fun to rediscover the old-fashioned Leonard underneath the glitzier Lynyrd. Leonard, a name from Old French by way of Old High German, means "brave as a lion; lion hearted." First a hit in the nineteenth century, the name peaked in the US in the 1920s. In 1933, when Leonard Skinner was born, his name ranked in the low 50s. The following year, US music got another famous Leonard in the form of baby Leonard Cohen (pictured).

Leonard still gets regular use, though it sounds fusty compared to its many appealing spinoffs and nicknames, a bonafide celebrity name trend. An extra "o" gets you Leonardo, a celebrity name which fits the mania for Italianate names like Marcello. Short gets you Leon (as in Lourdes Leon or Knox Leon Jolie-Pitt), and shorter gets you Leo (a name chosen by Jeff Gordon and Mario Batali).  Naming a girl? Léonie -- chosen recently by Monica Belluci -- sounds sweet and sophisticated, a less-familiar Sophie.

Do you like Leonard and its spinoff names? What would the band named after your high school gym teacher be called?



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September 24, 2010 1:50 PM
By Essy (not verified)

I like the name Leonard, it does reminds me of Star Trek TOS Leonard Nimoy, Leonard McCoy

but definitely I can picture little Leonards running around with little Henrys and other grandpa named babies.

Also I think Kings of Leon and Leonard from The Big Bang Theory but TBBT Leonard does point out a flaw in the name: Leonard: I hate my name. It has 'nerd' in it. 'Len. Nerd.'

September 3, 2014 6:02 AM
By url (not verified)

The ideas of the author was awesome, thanks for the share.

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