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The Story Behind "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer"

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DALLAS (CBSDFW) - It is one of the most popular Christmas songs ever composed.

"Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer," is a classic tune though with deep, North Texas roots.

Randy Brooks, who lives in East Dallas, wrote the song back in 1977. He was playing various clubs with his band and often wrote funny songs to make the crowd laugh.

"It's no 'O Holy Night' is it?" said Brooks.

When Brooks heard the Merle Haggard song, "Grandma's Christmas Card," Brooks thought he could make a funny take on the death of a grandmother during Christmas.

"How would Grandma die at Christmas time? So there was my title line. You know I thought get hit by Santa's sleigh. So, grandma got ran over by a reindeer," said Brooks.

When Brooks played it a show one occasion, the group Elmo and Patsy asked to record it and off the song went.

"If they believe me, they're real excited and all of a sudden someone wants to take a picture or get an autograph or something. But sometimes they go, 'yeah, sure,'" said Brooks.

What might be even more unbelievable is that Brooks does not own the jingle.

"I knew how to write a song and sing it to an audience, but I had no idea on the business end of things," said Brooks.

Brooks had hired a publisher when it was first released which now owns the copyright to the song.

"I might have made twice the money, but on the other hand, I might not have worked it as hard as the other people did," said Brooks.

Brooks has no regrets that it is not his voice everyone remembers on Christmas.

"That would be nice, but I can't complain about the way things have gone. It's been really super for me," said Brooks.

While people might not know who Randy Brooks is at first, when they find out about the song he wrote Brooks gets the reaction he was always writing to receive…a smile and a laugh,

"Just one of those lucky, lucky things that happens in someone's life," said Brooks.

The 35-year copyright on the song is about to expire in May. It will allow Brooks to once again regain control of the song he wrote.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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