'Grandma got run over' catchy tune was no reindeer game for writer

Thu Dec 24, 2015 9:15am EST
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By Marice Richter

DALLAS (Reuters) - The man behind the Christmas song, "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," either the most loved or most loathed of the season and certainly one of its most memorable, has no problems being a one-hit wonder and says the song has been both "my blessing and my albatross."

Randy Brooks, 67, a song writer and son of a church organist, told Reuters Wednesday he may not have left his mark on pop culture had it not been for car trouble in Lake Tahoe.

He was stuck in the resort town in the '70s with his band when he was invited up onstage by headliners Elmo and Patsy Shropshire and played the novelty tune he had written about the senior's improbable death.

Elmo Shropshire immediately asked to record it for the Elmo & Patsy act, Brooks said. Shropshire created copies of the song on 45-rpm records that he sold at his shows until radio DJs began playing it on air.

The rest is history, and for Brooks, a cash cow was born.

"It’s paid the college tuition for my two kids," said Brooks, a man much in demand for shows at clubs, nursing homes and parties in December.

He wrote “Grandma” in the 1970s as a satirical response to country star Merle Haggard’s sentimental song, “Grandma’s Homemade Christmas Card."

There was also a holiday-tune trend at the time of sentimental songs about a person who winds up dead - but only in the final verse.   Continued...

Randy Brooks plays the guitar in this undated photo released to Reuters on December 23, 2015.  REUTERS/Ira Hantz/Handout