COOL FROM THE WIRE: Gene, Jack, Henrik and Paul
I got a text from my friend Brett McCormick yesterday (Jan. 27) saying Dirty Looks frontman Henrik Ostergaard had died. As someone who is close to the Dirty Looks inner circle, I knew Brett was a reliable source, but I still didn’t want to believe him. Brett told me to touch base with our mutual friend and former Dirty Looks guitarist Paul Lidel who obviously was shocked and saddened by the news (although likely not entirely surprised). That phone conversation with Paul left no room for denial. Henrik was gone at the age of 47.

As half of Dirty Looks, Paul and Henrik (along with bassist Jack Pyers and flash-drummer Gene Barnett) first caught my attention with their 1988 AC/DC sound-alike song, “Oh Ruby,” which was getting heavy airplay on 99.5 KISS in my hometown of San Antonio (God bless, Joe Anthony!). The song led me to the band’s first major-label album, “Cool from the Wire.” Within a week of purchase, “Cool from the Wire” was as necessary in my car as gasoline. It still stands as one of my favorite records. Not one lame song. And that voice! As raw as Bon Scott in need of a cough drop.

When Dirty Looks arrived at the Showcase Events Center for a gig in San Antonio circa 1989, my attendance was mandatory. Wow! My favorite album played live in front of my face by a bunch of hair-slinging biker dudes from San Francisco and Pennsylvania. Abra-cadabra, baby!

Fast forward to Austin, Texas, circa 1996 and I’m at a backyard keg party when I’m told Dirty Looks guitarist Paul Lidel is in attendance after previously moving to Austin to join Dangerous Toys. Really? He’s HERE? I’m introduced to Paul and am admittedly star struck (which seems silly today since we’ve been friends for years). Here’s the guy behind the riffs that drove such killer songs as “Put a Spell on You,” “No Brains Child,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and the rest of “Cool from the Wire.” That album was/is so important to me that even after Paul and I became friends, I still had the sheepish nerve to ask him to autograph it for me (which, of course, he did).

At the time of Henrik’s death yesterday, he had reportedly had a heavy history with alcohol and was receiving hospice care (for specific reasons that remain unclear to me, but obviously would point to a dire illness of some sort). For the record, it’s thus far been reported Henrik died of natural causes. Regardless, a loss is a loss. Sad is sad.

I never met or knew Henrik personally, but his voice on “Cool from the Wire” is still a damn good friend of mine whenever I wanna slam down some good-time, rowdy rock. If Henrik’s voice is unfamiliar to you, I encourage you to introduce yourself. I promise you’ll be friends forever.

RIP, Henrik and thanks for the memories and music.

  1. So sad to hear Henrik go.. I grew up in central PA, and remember their music influencing me and my guitar playing..
    RIP buddy. We’ll crank the Dirty Looks LOUD & PROUD \m/

  2. Rob says:

    I was lucky enough to play (with my band) as an opening act for Dirty Looks many MANY years ago. It was just after their turn of the screw cd was released.

    if you thought that Dirty Looks are good recorded, you should hear them live! They kicked A$$. They had the “Wall of sound” and every single song was dead on but better because it was live and LOUD.

    I was very sad to hear about Henrik’s passing. He was a very talented singer and seemed like a cool person.

  3. Lance Manyon says:

    Not ONE day goes by where I don’t hear a Dirty Looks song or 10. This guy was my Bon Scott! My band (Meat Monster) is big time influenced by that sound and i fuckin love it.

    Back in 1991 a friend of mine and I were up drinking and threw on Turn Of The Screw.. we had the ridiculous idea to call 411 for NYC and find a listing for Henrik. (west coast time) Vancouver Canada, the operater actually had a phone # matching that name. We called it, his female cousin (who we woke up at 5am her time) answered and actually talked for about 20 minutes, she was appartment sitting for him and feeding his fish etc while he was on the road for TURN. Pretty funny, God bless her what ever her name.

    Cheers Always Henrik.

    PS! Strong Man! Track 6 from CFR is the BEST DL song period! Pure Energy.

    • admin says:

      Great story and great comment. Was just listening to CFR the other day. So underrated!! Paul Lidel has since become a friend of mine. Thanks for finding 2fast2die and enjoying. Cheers!

  4. Ted Decker says:

    Still, after 5 years. I still miss him. Never saw Dirty Looks, I’ve always listened to their c.d.’s .

    I made my own Greatest Hits of their recordings years ago,and still play it in my car. It consists of 20 songs. Trip the Light and Wastin’ My Time are just great songs. I love my Greatest Hits c.d. and their last recording! I.O.U.. It is a very good recording and the best in many years as the band fell apart. The song Only Friend has piano on it?!! And is sooo amazing. I glad that he left us with one final c.d. I think he knew it was his last.

    …See a Little Light in Your Babies Eyes. Light goes out……

    • admin says:

      Thanks for reading and posting, Ted. Was lucky enough to see Dirty Looks in a club in San Antonio. Years later, guitarist Paul Lidel and I became friends. Still see him around Austin from time to time. My wife cuts his hair (on the rare occasion that he gets it cut!). “Cool From the Wire” still rocks my world.

  5. I met Henrik Ostergaard Years Ago when I was between leaving Magnum and Hooking up with Ivory Chase in ERIE PA. The Guitar player from Magnum Chris Trot was Laying with Henrik in Henriks Band Crossfire at The Landmark at 26th and Browns Ave. I used to get up and Whail a few songs with em. Then in Like 1984 Johnnie Johnson and Henrik and I were gonna go out to LA. I stopped in Chicago and went into a Blue’s Club Call Kingston Mines. Needless to say that the Blues Captured my Soul. I stayed and lost Contact with Johnnie and Henrik. I came back to Erie in 2002 and Ran into Jimmy Balduf at Hunter’s Inn. He said he was Staying with Fred Vantassel and His Wife Deb around the corner. They Both worked with Henrik. Then Henrik Sold The Mansion up in Glenwood Hills on Upper State Street and Was Staying at The El Patio. Jimmy Balduf told me Some Stories and I wrote a Song About Henrik. Fred and I recorded it on a Micro Casette (LOL). Next thing you knew Henrik moved in with Fred and Deb and Jimmy. I used to go by often and talk about old times. I played him the Song ElPatio and he Liked it. He said he wanted to put it on a record he was getting ready to Record at The Carriage House. Scott P. I forget his last name. Played and From what I hear wrote some of the Record. Me and Henrik and Deb used to have some long talks in the living room. One day Henrik took off that hat he wore at the Warner Theater Show and pulled It over my head and Said I want you to have this. I still got it. I asked him if he talked to his Mother Lately,and he Paused for a second and I said You should Call her. He said He hadn’t talked to her in Years. About 3 or 4 days later I was up at Deb and Fred’s and He Thanked me for Suggesting that he Call his Mom and Told me he did. He was A Killer Songwriter and Man did he have Some Great Hooks. I Miss him. He said when he was putting The Worst of Dirty Looks record Together Yeah I think I’m gonna call it The Worst of Dirty Looks, what do you think About that. I said Yeah That’s a great Idea. R.I.P. Brother.

    • admin says:

      Great story, Kal. Thanks for sharing. I was lucky enough to see DL live about 1989. Always loved Henrik’s voice (wow! Pure rock-n-roll) and have been friends with Paul Lidel for 20 years now. Yeah, Henrik is missed.

  6. Lynnee says:

    Came across this great story on the anniversary of this death while searching for articles on Henrik. I to this day, have never gotten over his death. I love Dirty Looks and saw them play many, many times in State College, PA and then followed them around to different local towns like York, PA and Baltimore, MD. Dirty Looks is a staple on my iPod. I often play Cool to the Wire cover to cover, love every single song on that CD. I have recruited many friends into liking their music after giving them a copy of Cool from the Wire to listen to. I just wish they would have made it bigger, but it is cool to hear them once in a while on Sirius Hair Nation. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for reading and posting Lynnee. You may be interested to know the surviving members of the band will be playing a one-off gig featuring Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys, Broken Teeth and others) on vocals. They will be playing mostly from “Cool” and “Turn of the Screw.” March 20 in Glen Burnie, Maryland.