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Dance music star Avicii dead at 28

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The hitmaker behind “Levels,” aka Tim Bergling, retired from touring in 2016 due in part to health issues

Image: Universal

Swedish-born producer and DJ Avicii, real name Tim Bergling, died Friday, April 20th, 2018, as confirmed by his publicist Diana Baron. His death comes just days after his 2017 EP, Avīci (01), was nominated for a Billboard Music Award for top dance/electronic album.

“It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii,” Baron said in an issued statement. “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.”

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Bergling initially honed his artistic style as a participant in the Laidback Luke forum, an online space where many budding dance artists would post music to give and receive feedback on work. In May 2007, Avicii signed with label Dejfitts Plays, and in 2010, released his first hit single, “Seek Bromance,” which reached top 20 status in countries like Belgium, France, the Netherlands, the UK, and his home country of Sweden.

Bergling’s global breakthrough came in 2011 with “Levels,” a song that reached the top 10 in countries like Germany and the Netherlands, and topped charts in Sweden. Shortly after, his collaboration with David Guetta, “Sunshine,” was nominated for Best Dance Recording at the 54th Grammy Awards. A year later, he earned his second Grammy nomination in the same category for “Levels.”

In 2013, Bergling released his debut album, #TRUE, featuring lead single “Wake Me Up” with Aloe Blacc. The album was more experimental than Bergling’s previous works, incorporating elements from other types of music like country and bluegrass. At the time, he said dance music was “half stuck” and needed disruption. “This is about me being true to my sound but also to my own influences and musical preferences,” Bergling told Billboard. “This album consists 100 percent of songs I personally love. It’s true to me, true to my brand, true to Avicii.”

That year, Bergling won his first awards: an MTV EMA for Best Electronic Act and an American Music Award for favorite Electronic Dance Music Artist. He went on to release several more high-profile songs, including the official FIFA World Cup anthem titled “Dar um Jeito (We Will Find a Way).” Bergling’s second album, 2015’s Stories, followed in suit with the genre-bending fashion of #TRUE, featuring collaborators like Chris Martin, Brandon Flowers, and Wyclef Jean. In 2017, Bergling released six-track EP Avīci (01), telling Pete Tong on BBC Radio 1 he intended for it to be the first of three parts for his next studio album.

Bergling struggled with several health issues in the past, partly in relation to excessive drinking. In 2012, he had been hospitalized for 11 days with acute pancreatitis. At Miami Music Week in 2014, the SLS Hotel in Miami Beach was rebranded as the Avicii Hotel, but Bergling was unable to see it, rushed to the hospital for severe abdominal pains, nausea, and a fever from a blocked gallbladder. He canceled a series of shows in order to recover, and later had his gallbladder and appendix removed.

In 2016, Bergling announced his retirement from touring. Avicii: True Stories, a career-spanning documentary dropped a year later; the film follows his rise, fall, and medical problems, acting as “a cautionary tale that explores the taxing nature and intensity of fame.” Bergling said the 2017 film “is kind of gritty sometimes. It’s very personal. There’s a lot of ups and downs.”

In an interview with Rolling Stone last year about his decision to retire, he said, “The whole thing was about success for the sake of success. I wasn’t getting any happiness anymore.”