Avicii, the Grammy-nominated electronic dance DJ who performed sold-out concerts for feverish fans around the world and also had massive success on US pop radio, died Friday in Oman. He was 28.
Publicist Diana Baron said in a statement that the Swedish performer, born Tim Bergling, was found dead in Muscat, Oman. “It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii,” the statement read. “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.”
No more details about the death were provided. Oman police and state media had no immediate report late Friday night on the artist’s death. Avicii was an international pop star, performing his well-known electronic dance songs around the world for die-hard fans, sometimes hundreds of thousands at music festivals, where he was the headline act.
His popular sound even sent him to the top of the charts and landed onto US radio: His most recognized song, the country-dance mashup “Wake Me Up,” was a multi-platinum success and peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. On the dance charts, he had seven Top 10 hits.
But in 2016, the performer announced he was retiring from the road. He continued to produce songs and albums.
Avicii was part of the wave of DJ-producers, like David Guetta, Calvin Harris and Swedish House Mafia, who broke out on the scene as lead performers in their own right, earning international hits, fame, awards and more like typical pop stars.
Avicii earned his first Grammy nomination at the 2012 show – for a collaboration with Guetta. It was around the time he gained more fame for the Etta James-sampled dance jam, “Le7els,” which reached No. 1 in Sweden.
He continued to collaborate with more high-profile acts, producing Madonna’s “Devil Pray” and the Coldplay hits, “A Sky Full of Stars” and “Hymn for the Weekend.” He was even part of Mike Posner’s megahit “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” which featured the lyrics: “I took a pill in Ibiza/To show Avicii I was cool.” The song was based off Posner’s true story at an Avicii concert in Ibiza.
Avicii built a strong musical and personal friendship with Nile Rodgers, who called Avicii his “little brother” in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday.
“I’m shocked because I don’t know medically what happened, but I can just say as a person, as a friend, and more importantly, as a musician, Tim was one of the greatest, natural melody writers I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve worked with some of the most brilliant musicians on this planet,” Rodgers said.
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— Calvin Harris (@CalvinHarris) April 20, 2018
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.
“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.”
Rodgers said his last performance with Avicii – about three years ago – upset him because of Avicii’s drinking. “It was a little bit sad to me because he had promised me he would stop drinking, and when I saw him he was drunk that night. And I was like, ‘Whoa. Dude. C’mon. What are you doing? What’s going on? You said that that was done,’” Rodgers recalled.
“We did a show and I was a little upset. I didn’t even stick around for his performance because it was breaking my heart. But we still had a great time. It was wonderful – we were that close.”
Last year, Avicii 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.” Fans and members of the music community mourned his death on social media Friday.
“Something really horrible happened. We lost a friend with such a beautiful heart and the world lost an incredibly talented musician,” Guetta wrote on Instagram. “Thank you for your beautiful melodies, the time we shared in the studio, playing together as djs or just enjoying life as friends. RIP @avicii.”
Calvin Harris called Avicii “a beautiful soul, passionate and extremely talented with so much more to do.” Ellie Goulding wrote that Avicii “inspired so many of us. Wish I could have said that to you in person.”
Sweden’s Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia, who knew Avicii from playing at their wedding, said they were saddened by his death.
“We are grateful that we got to know him and admired him as an artist and the great person he was. He made our wedding unforgettable with his amazing music. Our warmest thoughts go to his family,” they said in a joint statement.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven called the lost star “one of Sweden’s biggest musicians”.
Avicii, a two-time Grammy nominee, won two MTV Europe Music Awards and one Billboard Music Award. His death comes just days after he was nominated for a 2018 Billboard Music Award for top dance/electronic album for his EP “Avicii (01).”
Avicii is the subject of the 2017 Levan Tsikurishvil documentary “Avicii: True Stories.” Muscat, where Avicii died, is the capital of the sultanate on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula. It is a popular vacation destination on the Arabian Sea.