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'Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer' holiday song has roots in Lake Tahoe

'Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer' holiday song has roots in Lake Tahoe | South Lake Tahoe -

Marice Richter, 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 (at the Hyatt Lake Tahoe in Incline Village) 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.

Because of that, Brooks said he killed Grandma as quickly as he could in his tune.

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Amazing that Elmo and Patsy just happened to be headlining that show. 

What a great origin story. 

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