"I envision a comeback in 60 years": The tragic genius of Avicii, a sublime talent plagued by demons
Avicii had quit touring in 2016 because of health issues folllowing excessive drinking habits. The shy DJ is no more
The only thing certain about death is its uncertainty. On April 20, the world was shaken when news about Avicii's death hit headlines. No one saw it coming. We were certain he was busy making another hit like 2013's 'Wake Me Up' and 'Hey Brother'.
But in an uncertain scenario, Billboard released a statement by Avicii's publicist Diana Baron; "He was found dead in Muscat, Oman this Friday afternoon local time, April 20th. The family is devastated and we ask everyone to please respect their need for privacy in this difficult time. No further statements will be given."
Swedish DJ Avicii, who took electronic music to new heights, was born on September 8, 1989, in Stockholm, grew up as a rather shy kid named Tim Bergling. Despite being a music superstar in his early 20s, with feverish fans all around the world, he continued to be one of the shyest DJs around. But he was the only DJ who could mix Country-Western styles with EDM and not just get away with it but find skyrocketing success.
For example, he took Etta James' already iconic "Something's Got a Hold on Me" vocals on and turned them into a generational anthem for "Levels" in 2011. The DJ was discovered by Ash Pournouri (Punani) back when he had just switched his name to Avicii.
He started out by making mixes in his own bedroom after finding his passion during his senior year at high school. Ash stumbled upon one of his blogs and invited him for a coffee. Post that, Aviccii signed his management deal and credited Ash as a second father for all his help.
His blog mainly had music content put up where he would ask his readers for opinions. Before Tim decided on his moniker 'Avicii' he ran a blog by the name of 'Timberman'. From Timberman he switched to Avicii in 2011 and in an interview with TIME magazine he explained the meaning; "Avici is the lowest level of Buddhist hell." So why the extra 'i'? It's because someone on MySpace had already taken the name.
In 2011, the launch of 'Levels' served as a ticket to the mainstream music industry and in 2012 he was nominated for a Grammy award for is collaboration track 'Sunshine' with David Guetta. And from then onwards, the only way was up for the new Swedish kid taking the music industry by storm.
His track 'Fade into Darkness' was sampled by Leona Lewis on her single 'Collide' that led to a massive controversy as Avicii attempted to block the single's release. The matter was resolved with a statement that "Leona Lewis and Avicii will work together on the forthcoming single of Collide".
And he did. Prior to 2013, he collaborated with major artistes and at Ultra Music Festival 2012 in Miami, he premiered two tracks, 'Girl Gone Wild' with Madonna and 'Superlove' with Lenny Kravitz. He became a quick success as he hit two million followers on Facebook, Avicii released a new song titled "Two Million". It was put out as a free download on his official Soundcloud page.
2013 was the year Avicii took EDM music to chart topping list with his album 'True'. The tracks were experiential in nature and unlike any we had heard of. When he released 'Hey Brother' on October 2013, with vocals by Dan Tyminski, Avicii won his first award "Best Electronic" at the MTV EMA's. On 24 November 2013 he won the American Music Award for favorite Electronic Dance Music Artist and a series of awards followed.
By January 2014, Avicii had tattooed his identity in EDM music genre to the extent that a French hit music radio station NRJ released a new web radio station called "NRJ AVICII", which plays songs only by him. He had already reached the zenith of his popularity so the years 2014 and 2015 was all about collaborations and he told the Rolling Stones that he was working on 70 songs for his album 'Stories' with music biggies like Jon Bon Jovi, Serj Tankian of System of a Down, Chris Martin, Wyclef Jean and Matisyahu.
Then 2016 was the year he took retirement from touring because of health concerns. Avicii had in the past suffered acute pancreatitis, in part due to excessive drinking. After having his gallbladder and appendix removed in 2014, he canceled a series of shows in attempt to recover. That was also the year he parted his way with long term manager Ash Pournouri . After collaborations with Coca Cola and Coldplay, Avicii announced on Facebook that he would be retiring from performing live and touring on March 29, 2016. But that did not keep him from working on his third studio album with a single released on June with his collaboration with Otto Knows titled "Back Where I Belong". Then he promptly released a remix of his own song, 'Feeling Good', the only track on his official YouTube channel.
His last live performance was in Ibiza on 28 August 2016.
"It's been a very crazy journey. I started producing when I was 16. I started touring when I was 18. From that point on, I just jumped into 100 percent," Avicii told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016.
"When I look back on my life, I think: whoa, did I do that? It was the best time of my life in a sense. It came with a price - a lot of stress a lot of anxiety for me - but it was the best journey of my life."
He kept his fans updated on his whereabouts and his work on his social media pages. On July 13 to August 2, Avicii shared one-minute snippets on Instagram, captioned "New music coming very very (very) soon!", with track titles as hashtags and even uploaded teasers of each track from the EP online upon release.
On 10 August 2017, Bergling released the six-track EP Avīci and sated; "I'm really excited to be back with music once again. It has been a long time since I released anything and a long time since I was this excited over new music! My focus on this first EP of the album was to get a mix of new and old songs: some that fans have been asking about and waiting for mixed with brand new songs that they have never been heard before!"
On 11 September 2017, Avicii announced a documentary entitled Avicii: True Stories. The documentary chronicles the artist’s retirement from tour, and features interviews from his colleagues David Guetta, Tiësto, Wyclef Jean, Nile Rodgers and Chris Martin of Coldplay. He also posted this message on his website, promising to keep creating: "The next stage will be all about my love of making music to you guys. It is the beginning of something new."
In 2018 Avicii was rather active on Instagram keeping 6.3 million followers on his investments and studiomode. His latest post was on April 5 when he let the world know that it is sunny in California.
His death comes just days after he was nominated for a 2018 Billboard Music Award for top dance/electronic album for his EP Avicii. He was nominated alongside his peers, who have taken EDM mainstream of late — The Chainsmokers, Calvin Harris and Kygo.
The Swedish DJ who also modelled for Ralph Lauren for their Denim & Supply campaign told in 2016 interview to Hollywood Reporter; “I could envision a comeback. Maybe in 60 years.”
"Wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself, and I
Didn't know I was lost."