Dallas Songwriter Tells History of ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer'

It's the classic holiday song with an unfortunate ending for Grandma.

Back in 1977 Dallas resident Randy Brooks was getting ready for bed when he had a thought.

"I always say I went to bed with my guitar and my co-writer, Johnny Walker Black, and I sat there and I asked myself, how would grandma die at Christmas time?" Brooks said.

It may seem morbid, but Brooks said he was tired of the old country classics.

"One of those country songs where they drag you into love with a character and then kill them off in the third verse. I just thought, 'Ehhh, I'm tired of that!'"

So he came up with the lyrics to Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer, telling the story of a grandma who drank too much eggnog and had an unfortunate run-in with Santa's sleigh.

By chance, Brooks said the group Elmo & Patsy heard him perform it at a show and asked if they could record the song and sell copies of it at their own shows.

Brooks gave them permission, and a few months later a disc jockey at a San Francisco radio station played the song on-air.

"All hell broke loose. The phones at KSFO started ringing off the hook, most people saying, 'Don't ever play that song again!' But other people said, 'Oh, do play it again!'" Brooks said. "Different news outlets and radio stations started saying where can we get a copy of the record?

And they were just printing them up themselves. They couldn't press them fast enough," Brooks said.

Brooks said by 1983, it was the most popular holiday tune that year.

And soon the song evolved into cartoons, toys and clothes.

"This year there's a Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer hot chocolate mix," he said, laughing.

"I guess it's hard to remember life without it. I always say it's the luckiest thing that ever happened to me besides my wife and daughters," Brooks said.

The record eventually went gold, then platinum over the years.

Now, nearly four decades later, Brooks said he hopes it's a part of most families' holidays.

"I would like them to think that's a part of the holiday tradition and just be happy to hear it because it's been around forever," he said.

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