It’s the Christmas season, which means your veterinary office is likely full of Christmas decorations and the holiday music is playing softly in the background. If you have the season off, you might hear the Christmas tunes on your own radio, at stores while you shop or stuck in your head as you desperately try to think of something else. The ones stuck in your head are probably the most popular ones — “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman,” and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” While you might not know how the songs originated or why they’re still stuck in your head, you can thank a veterinarian for bringing you that last one.
Elmo Shropshire, DVM, first recorded the song in 1979 with his then-wife, Patsy. It was written by Dr. Shropshire’s friend, Randy Brooks, and Shropshire and his wife self-released 45 copies as a gag gift for their friends, SFGate reports. A disc jockey named Gene Nelson somehow got his hands on it and started playing it on KSFO.
“One day I was driving to work and I turned the radio on and heard the DJ say, ‘We have this song a lot of people said they want to hear and a lot of people said they never want to hear again,’” Shropshire told SFGate. “Next thing I hear is my voice come on.”
The veterinarian had a record deal by 1983. Now, at 79, Shropshire says he’s done with the annual radio tours to promote the song, which now earns him very little in royalties (a recent check was for 44 cents, according to SFGate). Shropshire says he’ll continue to make television appearances because he still loves “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”
“Whenever I get up and perform it, there’s this wonderful look of recognition on everyone’s face. It’s the power of the song.”
Watch Shropshire and Brooks perform the song:
What do you think of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer?”