Grandma drank too much eggnog, forgot her medication and staggered home in the snow.
If you own one of the millions of copies of the record, or if you’re one of the listeners who made it a continuing holiday hit, you know how the story ends: “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”
Beginning next month, Patsy Trigg, who recorded the song in 1979 with her ex-husband Elmo Shropshire, will perform it and other numbers live at a kiosk in the Exchange lobby through Christmas. Her friend Virginia Dodson will sell wreaths, jewelry and other gift items at the kiosk.
Trigg, 74, who lives in Fayetteville, Tennessee, is now retired and works two part-time volunteer jobs, one in the wood shop at the Huntsville-Madison County Senior Center, and another as the remote-control operator of Rosie, the robot that greets visitors at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.
Through the years, she has had several interesting jobs, with her love for music always in the background or at the forefront. She began guitar lessons when she was 11 years old.
Upon graduation from Middle Tennessee State University, Trigg became a flight attendant for TWA, based out of San Francisco.
That’s where she met Shropshire and eventually joined his band, “The Homestead Act,” which played at clubs in the Bay area.
Later, the couple married and formed their own band, “Elmo and Patsy and the Cruise Jockeys,” so named because they worked on cruise ships, clubs, and eventually at casinos in Reno, Nevada.
There they met Randy Brooks, who wrote “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” which Trigg said was first titled and copywritten as “Killer Reindeer.”
Brooks was also performing in Reno and was socked in due to weather one night.
“They came in to watch our first show,” Trigg said. After the show, Brooks pitched the couple the song. Soon after, they recorded it and it was published by a Nashville company owned by her parents. Trigg wrote the “B-side” of the 45 RPM, titled simply “Christmas.”
The couple took part in a touring “Harvest Festival” lineup soon after they recorded the song and toured the West Coast, the Southwest and even Europe.
“That’s when Grandma took off,” Trigg said of the unlikely hit song that soared on the Billboard music charts for years and continues to be a holiday classic more than 40 years after it was recorded.
Royalties from the song have provided Trigg bread and butter for years, but she has also pursued several varied occupations. She was a disc jockey at WLIJ-a.m. radio in Shelbyville, Tennessee; taught a music publishing class at Motlow College in Fayetteville; and attended auction school in Nashville and became a live auctioneer.
“I just loved to hear the guys do the call,” said Trigg, who then demonstrated her own fast auction “chant.”
She was also a prize-winning barbecue cook whose group, “Oink, Cackle and Moo,” placed third one year in the whole hog category of the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.
More recently, she has been working on her third and fourth children’s books and enjoying the company of her Great Pyrenees dog, Cleo, and orange tabby cat, Lewis.
More information on Trigg’s appearances at Redstone Arsenal will be forthcoming. To see links to her music performances or read more about her books, audio books and the song that brought her more than 15 minutes of fame, visit your favorite Internet search engine and key in her name.