Hank von Hell, the former lead singer of self-described Norwegian “deathpunk” band Turbonegro, died on Friday (Nov. 19) at age 49, his former bandmates have confirmed. The cause of death is not known at this time.
“It is with immense sadness we received the tragic news that Hans-Erik ‘Hertis’ Dyvik Husby has passed away,” read a message posted to Turbonegro’s Instagram account on Friday. “We are thankful for the times, the moments and the magic we shared with Hans-Erik in Turbonegro during the years 1993-2009.”
The band continued by describing von Hell as “a charismatic frontman who equally channeled humor and vulnerability” and “a warm and big hearted human, a spiritually and intellectually seeking person who loved having a conversation with anyone. We are proud of what we created together as rock brothers in Turbonegro – the music, the characters, our whole universe.”
Born Hans Erik Dyvik Husby and also known as Hank von Helvete, Von Hell joined Turbonegro in 1993 and became a part of the band’s signature lineup, which rose to prominence thanks in part to their unique blend of punk energy, glam-rock theatricality, arena-ready sound and gothic flourishes, including von Hell’s signature black eye makeup. During their mid-to-late ‘90s period, the group released a total of four albums, including 1998’s Apocalypse Dudes, considered by many to be the pinnacle of their early output.
For Von Hell — who was beloved for his flamboyant, high-energy stage presence — success was accompanied by darkness. Five years after joining the band, the frontman had descended into heroin addiction and severe depression, forcing the group to disband in December 1998. Following a three-year hiatus, during which Von Hell sought treatment for his drug use, the band reunited in 2002 and would go on to release three more albums with Von Hell, including Scandinavian Leather, Party Animals and Retox.
After departing Turbonegro in 2009, Von Hell formed a new band, Doctor Midnight & The Mercy Cult, which released one album, 2011’s I Declare: Treason. In 2018, Von Hell launched a solo career and released two albums – Egomania and Dead – under his own name. Most recently, he contributed vocals to the song “Black Hearse Cadillac” by the band Me and That Man, which was released the day of his death.