Who the Heck Are Elmo & Patsy and Where Did That Stupid Song Come From?
Can you believe this holiday classic turns age 40 this year? "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" was cute the first time I played it in 1979 and because it was only played for a couple of weeks at Christmas, it didn't become too stale for the first few years. But after 20 years it started to get on my nerves. At 30 years I started turning the studio speakers down just after putting Elmo and Patsy on. At 40 years I am starting to envy grandma who was done in by the reindeer. To take my mind off the possibility of hearing it again this year, I have done some research on Elmo and Patsy themselves.
First of all, Elmo joins the ranks of famous personalities like Muhamad Ali, Loretta Lynn and Colonel Sanders. He's from KENTUCKY! Elmo Shropshire was born and raised in Lexington then left to get his degree in Veterinary Science. Being around horses in the bluegrass served Dr. Elmo well because he became the track vet at both Aqueduct and Belmont race tracks in New York.
Dr. Elmo and his wife Patsy dabbled in that other Kentucky tradition--bluegrass music. They were playing a gig at Lake Tahoe and invited fellow songwriter Randy Brooks who was in the audience to sing a few tunes with them. Randy did a tune he had written, "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer". The Shropshires loved it and quickly recorded it and pressed it on their own record label. And the rest is history.
Sadly Elmo and Patsy divorced in 1985 but Dr. Elmo re-recorded the tune solo and re-released it. It has spawned a movie, TV specials, many articles of clothing, books and at least one country parody tune, "Grandma Got Runned Over By a John Deere" by Cledus T. Judd plus other merchandise too numerous to mention.
Dr. Elmo is remarried now and operates his own veterinary hospital in San Francisco. He is also a champion runner at age 83. He is currently the nation's 5k cross country champion in his age class. Possibly he's trying to run away from that darn song that has been consistently voted America's worst Christmas song. Of course if you haven't had 40 years of it--it may sound good to you. You can preview it at the top of this page.