Avicii: the life and legacy of an innovator

Photo courtesy of Instagram user @avicii.

Swedish musician, DJ and record producer Avicii was found dead in Muscat, Oman on April 20 at age 28.

In the days following his death, the family of the DJ, named Tim Bergling, named released a statement that implied the EDM superstar took his own life.


“Our beloved Tim was a seeker, a fragile artistic soul searching for answers to existential questions,” the statement said. “He really struggled with thoughts about meaning, life, happiness. He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace.”


Bergling began his music career at age 16, posting his remixes in online electronic music forums. At only age 17, the musician signed his first record label deal.


Bergling soon established a fanbase in the U.K., Europe and the U.S. with single releases, most notably “Seek Bromance,” which charted in several European countries and was No. 13 in the U.K. mainstream charts. Bergling had established a foundation that would soon lead him to an international stardom.


In 2011, The DJ quickly rose to prominence with his breakout hit single “Levels.” The smash crossover featured soulful elements with vocal samples from the singer Etta James.


Reaching the Top Ten in 15 countries and later being nominated for a Grammy, Avicii catapulted to the forefront of the EDM movement.


Bergling released his first studio album, “True,” in September 2013. The album’s lead single, “Wake Me Up,” became an international hit, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song went platinum six times.


In addition to other smash hits, like “Hey Brother,” the album received critical acclamation for its blend of electronic music with elements of other genres, namely country, folk and pop. This song expanded the reach and inclusivity of EDM and started a revolution with Avicii among its pioneers.


Following his impact, Avicii became stratospheric. The DJ was soon performing and headlining major festivals like Ultra, Coachella, Tomorrowland and numerous venues in Las Vegas. His eagerness to push boundaries and incorporate different genres landed the DJ major collaborations with Coldplay, Madonna, Leona Lewis, Santana, Wyclef Jean, former ABBA members Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, David Guetta and most recently, Rita Ora. Bergling’s collaboration with Guetta earned a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording.


Avicii, listed on Forbes as one of the Highest Paid DJs, worked to use his wealth to help the less fortunate. In 2012, he went on a 27-date tour called, “House for Hunger,” which traveled around the U.S. He donated his entire income of approximately $1 million to the hunger relief charity, Feeding America. The producer then donated another million euros to the Swedish aid organization, Radiohjälpen.


“When you have such an excess amount of money you don’t need, the most sensible, most human and completely obvious thing is to give to people in need,” Bergling said in a 2013 interview.


In 2015, the DJ worked to bring attention to issues of gang violence and human trafficking with videos released for his tracks, “Pure Grinding” and “For a Better Day.”


“All the songs have a story I wanted to tell,” he said at the time.


With a relentless touring schedule, Bergling struggled with major mental and physical health problems in the years leading up to his death. With health complications stemming in part from a demanding life on the road and excessive drinking, the artist underwent gallbladder and appendix removal surgeries in 2014.


By 2016, he made the decision to retire from touring, stating in an open letter that he had “too little left for the life of a real person behind the artist.”


Bergling hoped the time away would allow him an opportunity to, “find a balance in life to be happy and be able to do what he loved most -music,” according to family.


Since his passing, a plethora of mourning fans, friends, and fellow musicians have paid homage to the late artist with public gatherings, Coachella tributes, open letters and church bells ringing out his music. To many of them, Avicii was more than an artist, he was an innovator, he was the inspiration that prompted them to first start making music. He is dearly missed.


Tim Bergling is survived by his parents Anki and Klas, his sister, Linda,and his brothers, Anton and David.


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Avicii: the life and legacy of an innovator

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