Avicii: Leaving Behind an Unfinished Legacy
Beloved Swedish DJ Avicii passed away in April,
Avicii, the stage name for Swedish DJ and producer Tim Bergling, passed away on April 20th, 2018, shaking the electronic dance music community worldwide. He was found dead in Muscat, Oman on the Arabian peninsula, where he had traveled to visit friends.
His death came as a shock to even those working closest with him. “All his notes were in happy mode,” said the head of Universal Music Sweden, Per Sundin, referencing their email correspondence just days prior to Avicii’s passing. He was still planning new music and collaborations during conference calls with his management team while abroad. He even stopped take pictures with fans while in Oman. No one saw it coming.
Steve Aoki, INGROSSO, and Marshmello were some of the first of Bergling’s fellow EDM superstars to express condolences on Twitter. Calvin Harris headed the incessant stream of tweets, writing, “Devastating news about Avicii, a beautiful soul, passionate and extremely talented with so much more to do. My heart goes out to his family. God bless you Tim x.” Martin Garrix tweeted soon after, “Can’t really describe in words how sad I feel right now.. Thank you for inspiring me and millions others. RIP Avicii.”
What led to the passing of Avicii? Could something have been done to keep him here? Or was his early passing inevitable, a heartbreaking testament to the booze-infused EDM scene?
Tim Bergling’s Burst Into the EDM Scene
Bergling started off as nearly all big-name DJs do: producing tracks on a laptop in his bedroom. He posted the music he made to Myspace where the stage name Avicii was created. “Avici” is a Buddhist term for the lowest level of hell, but a level from which souls can be reborn. He added the additional “i” since “Avici” was already taken.
Initially discovered by the Dutch producer Laidback Luke, Avicii’s presence in the electronic music scene exploded with the release of his hit track Levels in 2011. Only 21 at the time of its release, he had limited experience in handling his newfound fame but was guided by his manager, Ash Pournouri.
Avicii followed up Levels with additional smash songs like Fade Into Darkness and Silhouettes, shifting the focus of EDM into where it is at today. Always aiming to set himself apart, though, he released Wake Me Up in 2013, blending folk, country, and electronic music. The song catapulted to the first slot of music charts in over 40 countries worldwide.
Avicii’s Struggle with Alcohol
The electronic music scene is stereotypically substance-infused. Though not all attendees sip champagne and munch on MDMA, it’s almost impossible to deny the prevalence of mind-altering substances on the dancefloor.
Although he insisted he never took drugs like ecstasy, those that coursed through the bodies of many in his audiences, Avicii often drank heavily. As relatively shy individual, he had a difficult time handling the spotlight when he wasn’t behind his turntables.
Alcohol helped Avicii cope with the consistent pressure placed on him to perform. He was quoted in a profile written for GQ, saying, “I was so nervous. I just got into a habit, because you rely on that encouragement and self-confidence you get from alcohol, and then you get dependent on it.”
The diet to fuel his more than 250 performances per year consisted mainly of Red Bull, nicotine, airport food, and alcohol. Bloody Marys for breakfast, wine on the plane, and champagne behind the turntables. His consumption was like clockwork but he did his best, “never drink two days in a row.”
Still, in 2012, he was hospitalized for acute pancreatitis for over a week, mostly as a result of his heavy drinking. Doctors suggested having his gallbladder removed in March of 2014, a surgery he put off in order to continue working and touring.
After a brief rebound upon the release of his album Stories in 2015, Avicii announced in 2016 that he no longer planned to tour. He wanted to step away from the massive productions he found himself in the midst of in order to focus on his music.
An executive for Geffen Records, Neil Jacobson, summed it up well: “He had the duality of having a gigantic sense of theatrical ambition but, at the same time, being a very humble and simple guy. He was caught between the two, and the life began grinding on him.”
His Unfinished Reappearance
Avicii dropped an EP in August of 2017, the first since his retirement announcement more than a year prior. According to an interview with BBC Radio 1, it was the first of the three parts of his new album that he planned to release over the course of the upcoming months.
However, the following two parts were not released before his death in April. No cause of death was given during the initial announcement, leaving fans to grapple with the sudden passing of their hero. Many attributed it to his struggles with alcohol, assuming that substance abuse played some type of role.
A week later, his family released an open letter implying that Tim had actually committed suicide. In the note, they wrote, “He really struggled with thoughts about Meaning, Life, Happiness. He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace.”
Sentiments in the letter echoed Jacobson’s statement following the announcement of Avicii’s retirement: “Tim was not made for the business machine he found himself in; he was a sensitive guy who loved his fans but shunned the spotlight.”
Further details about his death have yet to be released. Though his alcohol use may not have played a direct role in his passing, his alcohol abuse in the past surely did little to help.
Are You Struggling With Alcohol Abuse?
Alcohol abuse affects everyone, from world-famous touring DJs like Avicii to everyday individuals. If you’re struggling with controlling your alcohol use, seek help before it becomes too much to manage. Call admissions staff today to learn more about treatment options available that can help you escape the clutches of alcoholism.
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