World-renowned Swedish DJ Avicii, born Tim Bergling, died at age 28 on Friday.
“It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii,” his publicist Diana Baron said in a statement. “He was found dead in Muscat, Oman this Friday afternoon local time, April 20. 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.”
Avicii broke out in 2011 to an international audience with the track Levels, which earned him his first Grammy nod. The following year, his collaboration with David Guetta, Sunshine, earned him his second Grammy nomination and that same year he became the first EDM artist to headline New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
In 2013, he also became the first EDM artist to have a Town Hall on SiriusXM with the release of his debut studio album, True, featuring the genre-bending international hit Wake Me Up! featuring Aloe Blacc, which combined EDM, country and folk music.
Hear Birdy’s cover of the song, which she performed for Alt Nation in 2014:
Avicii released his second album, Stories, in 2015, which featured vocals from artists like Chris Martin, Wyclef Jean, Brandon Flowers, Gavin DeGraw and more.
In March of 2016, following years of health complications, he announced his decision to retire from touring entirely in an emotional letter he posted on his website.
“Two weeks ago, I took the time to drive across the U.S. with my friends and team, to just look and see and think about things in a new way,” he wrote. “It really helped me realize that I needed to make the change that I’d been struggling with for a while.”
Laidback Luke, who gave Bergling his start by releasing his music on Laidback Luke’s Forum, called into BPM to reflect on the young DJs life and what drove him into early retirement.
“I could have given him so much advice to turn this whole thing around,” Laidback Luke said. “What you need to realize is that performing was his biggest anxiety, and so each and every single night he needed to face his biggest anxiety. That will get you at a certain point.”
Steve Aoki also offered his thoughts on his late friend, who he said inspired not only him but the entire genre.
“When I really go back to what Avicii did to electronic music, I literally can hear him in all these songs even if they aren’t his songs,” Aoki told BPM. “He is one of the most important figures for EDM, that term, to even exist. That term is maybe 10 years old, and Avicii broke that term into existence. You know there’s a few artists who can do that, and he is one of them.”
Speaking to BPM today, Kaskade remembered Avicii as a shy but talented artist.
“He was always pretty shy and pretty reserved,” he said. “I think a lot of people know and understand that and that lead to some of the problems that he had. I think he was trying to cope with the situation he was in. He found fame relatively quick and at such a young age. He was always such a nice guy.”
Tiesto also remembered Avicii as a musician who struggled with the performance aspect of his art.
“He had a little bit of stage fright,” Tiesto recalled. “It was very tough for him to be on stage and perform, so he loved to be in the studio, but DJing, he liked it but it was very hard for him to actually DJ because he felt so stressed and so looked upon, I think. It was definitely not his favorite thing to do. He was definitely a guy who loved to sit behind a piano and be in the studio for days and make the music.”
The Chainsmokers (Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart) credit Avicii for inspiring their entire career.
“He was the actual reason both of us fell in love with dance music and started,” said Pall. “He was the first EDM act that we saw and felt that a career in this was possible and worth the struggle and working our asses off and dedicating everything to making it happen. Just watching the music that he was making and the way it made us feel, the way it made the people around us feel. And you know he is literally the reason why we do this, and it’s a very devastating day for us and many like us.”
Check back for more reflections throughout the evening as we continue to get calls from his peers and fans.