This week, we celebrate the many accomplishments of Avicii. Born Tim Bergling, Avicii would have turned 31 years old on Tuesday, September 8th. Though his life and career were cut tragically short, Avicii left an indelible mark on Electronic music, and on popular culture. The Swedish DJ and producer died by suicide in 2018.
Avicii was born in Stockholm, Sweden on September 8th, 1989. He started mixing at the age of eight, and he began producing original music at the age of 16. By 2009 (at the age of 20), Avicii was a prolific producer, releasing music at a breakneck pace. He signed with EMI Music Publishing in 2010.
The Avicii Profile
Avicii’s first charted single was released on October 17th, under his Tim Berg name followed by My Feelings for You, the first charted release under the Avicii name.
In October of 2011, Avicii released “Levels” and became an instant sensation. The single reached the top 10 in 16 countries, and topped the charts in Hungary, Norway, and Sweden. The track samples “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” by Etta James. Avicii’s track “Fade Into Darkness” was originally titled “Penguin” named after the Pengiun Cafe Orchestra and is sampled on his track with Leona Lewis, “Collide”.
In 2012, his collaboration with David Guetta, “Sunshine,” was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Dance Recording. Later that year, he worked with the likes of Madonna and Lenny Kravitz, and played Lollapalooza in Chicago’s Grant Park… he also reached 2 million followers on Facebook, for which he released the single “Two Million.” Avicii was also nominated for a Grammy award in 2013 for Best Dance Recording for “Levels.”
In his biggest year March, 2013, Avicii announced and premiered tracks from his new album, “True,” which was set to be released in September. These tracks were far more experimental than some of his earlier music, which garnered him some mixed reviews amongst critics. On June 25, 2013, Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” premiered, and instantly hit number 1 on the Spotify Global Chart. “Wake Me Up” went on to set a record of 14 weeks as the number one hit on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Chart, and became the UK’s fastest selling single of 2013. The single became a major hit, and topped the charts in over 20 countries. Avicii spent the remainder of 2013, and the beginning of 2014, collaborating with Madonna, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Carlos Santana, and Wyclef Jean, and producing the FIFA World Cup’s closing ceremony anthem.
2013 also marked the year of heavy promotion with a promotional coffee brand, coffee trucks in New York City and Chicago and the premier of the Avicii hotel during Miami Music Week. Avicii also teamed up with Ralph Lauren with their line of Denim and Supply.
In July of 2014, Avicii told Rolling Stone that he had worked on over 70 songs for his next album, Stories, which included collaborations with Jon Bon Jovi, Serj Tankian, Chris Martin, Billie Joe Armstrong, Wyclef Jean, and Matisyahu.
The Avicii hotel returned during Miami Music Week, getting a major expansion into the luxury five start SLS hotel. During the week, the Avicii Pop-Up Store at Wings also premiered.
In May of 2015, Avicii released his rework of Nina Simone’s version of “Feeling Good,” which also became an instant hit. Stories was released in October of 2015 alongside 3 promotional singles: “Broken Arrows” with Zac Brown, “Ten More Days” with Zak Abel, and “Gonna Love Ya” with Sandro Cavazza. Though it didn’t reach the same level of cultural sensation as Avicii’s other albums, Stories was the culmination of almost 2 years of work.
In 2016, Avicii announced his retirement from touring, citing health concerns. He released a few singles and remixes, and played his final live show on August 28th, 2016. In 2017, Avicii released the six-track EP Avicii (01) and said of the release, “I’m really excited to be back with music once again. It has been a long time.”
On September 11, 2017, Avicii announced a documentary, Avicii: True Stories, that chronicled his retirement from touring and features interviews from colleagues like David Guetta, Tiësto, Nile Rodgers, and Chris Martin. Sadly, Avicii passed away in April of 2018. It was reported that at the time of his death, Avicii had over 200 unreleased songs.
In April of 2019, it was announced that the album Tim, which Avicii was working on before his death, would be released in June. All proceeds from the sale of the album went to the Tim Bergling Foundation, a foundation that was created in his memory to address mental health awareness and suicide prevention. The foundation has since been expanded to include work on climate change, the protection of endangered species, and nature conservation.
What’s clear about Avicii’s life and work is that he was undoubtedly a talent well beyond his years. He left a mark on the music world that will surely be felt for generations. Although his public-facing career lasted for only 12 years, the songs and albums he produced are honestly too many to count. As is evidenced by the thousands of tributes that appeared after his death, what’s true too, is the mark he left on the people he worked with, and the people who loved his music.