Victor Lundberg (2 September 1923 – 14 February 1990) was an American radio personality. He is best known for a spoken-word record called to "An Open Letter To My Teenage Son", which became an unlikely Top 10 hit in 1967.
Lundberg was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and was a newscaster at Grand Rapids radio station WMAX when he released "An Open Letter" in September 1967. The record, written by Robert R Thompson and produced by Jack Tracy, imagines Lundberg talking to his teenage son (in real life, Lundberg had at least one male teenager in his household at the time). Lundberg touches on hippies, the Vietnam War, and patriotism. The voice-over, spoken over "Battle Hymn of the Republic", memorably ends with Lundberg telling his son that, if the teen burns his draft card, then he should "burn (his) birth certificate at the same time. From that moment on, I have no son."
A hit record
"An Open Letter" became a surprise hit in Michigan and was released nationally by Liberty Records, jumping onto the Billboard Hot 100 at #84 on November 11, 1967. Within three weeks it went #58 - #18 - #10, making it one of the dozen or so fastest-climbing records in Hot 100 history up to that point, and Lundberg made an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. After another week at #10, the record slipped to #22 for the week ending December 16, 1967, then vanished from the Hot 100 completely, after a total run of just six weeks. Few other records have ever been ranked so high in such a short chart stay on the Hot 100 (Napoleon XIV's "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" peaked at #3 but was only on the Hot 100 for six weeks; Kenny G's "Auld Lang Syne" (The Millennium Mix) peaked at #7 but was only the Hot 100 for five weeks). However, it sold over one million copies within a month of release and was awarded a gold disc. "An Open Letter" also received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Spoken Word Recording, losing to Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen's "Gallant Men".
There were also at least eight "response" records: Keith Gordon's "A Teenager's Answer", released on the Tower label, "A Teenager's Open Letter To His Father" by Robert Tamlin., "Letter From A Teenage Son" by Brandon Wade [Philips 40503], "A Letter To Dad" by Every Father's Teenage Son" [Buddah 25], "Hi, Dad (An Open Letter To Dad)" by Dick Clair [Imperial 66272], "An Open Letter To My Dad" by Marceline [Ion 102] and "Open Letter To The Older Generation" by Dick Clark [Dunhill 4112].
The record was heavily criticised in a scathing review by William Zinsser, 'The Pitfalls of Pop's Pompous Pop-off' in Life Magazine, 5 January 1968.
Encouraged by the single's success, Liberty released an entire album of Lundberg's musings, entitled An Open Letter (LST 7547) that failed to chart. The album featured ten selections, many of which took a less strongly conservative line than "Teenage Son". "My Buddy Carl" (originally the B-side of the hit single) decried racial prejudice, while "On Censorship", takes an almost Libertarian view of "self-appointed ... censorious do-gooders". (Lundberg is sometimes identified as a leader of the Libertarian Party, but sources differ as to whether he was actually a member; the national party was not formed until 1971.)
He died in 1990.
- "USA's Hottest New 45 RPM: Letter To A Teenage Son" by Bob O'Lear Rolling Stone. #RS2 November 23, 1967.
- Joel Whitburn, The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. 7th edn, 2000
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 225. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- The Envelope Archived September 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Los Angeles Times. Accessed October 19, 2007.
- Available on the compilation CD, U-SPACES: Way Out Wonders, Volume 1,