Swedish dance music superstar Avicii dies at 28

Avicii (Tim Bergling) takes a selfie on Table Mountain, South Africa, January 11, 2018. /Instagram

Avicii, one of the world’s biggest superstars in electronic music dance (EDM), was found dead in Oman on Friday at the age of 28, his US representative said.

Two years after his unusually early retirement from touring, the Swedish DJ, whose real name was Tim Bergling, was found dead in the Gulf sultanate’s capital Muscat, a statement said.

“It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii,” his management said without specifying the cause of death or why he was in Oman.

“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 was among the first DJs to break through in the mainstream as electronic dance music grew over the past decade from nightclubs to Top 40 radio. He created a global hit out of Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars,” to which he added a layer of energetic electronica.

He also helped produce Madonna’s last album. On Instagram, the pop superstar posted a picture of herself in the DJ booth with Avicii and wrote, “So Tragic. Goodbye Dear Sweet Tim. Gone Too Soon.”

His biggest individual hits included “Wake Me Up,” which went to number one across Europe in 2013 and featured the soul singer Aloe Blacc.

He was scheduled to play in Shanghai during his Asia tour in 2013 but the show was canceled without giving a specific reason. In 2015, the artist was set to play in the Budweiser Storm Festival but he dropped out again due to health issues.

He DJ-ed the wedding reception of Sweden’s Prince Carl Philip and his bride Sofia in 2015. The couple mourned him in a statement, saying: “We had the honor to have known him and admired him both as an artist and the beautiful person that he was.”

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven called Avicii “one of the greatest names of music in Sweden in modern times.”

Scene ‘not for me’

While the death came as a shock, Avicii has spoken publicly in recent years about his health problems including pancreatitis, triggered in part by excessive drinking.

The condition forced him to cancel shows in 2014 as he had to have his gallbladder and appendix removed.

In 2016, Avicii stunned fans by retiring from touring when he was just 26, saying that he wanted to leave the high-flying electronic music lifestyle.

“The scene was not for me,” he told music magazine Billboard after his decision.

“It was not the shows and not the music. It was always the other stuff surrounding it that never came naturally to me. All the other parts of being an artist,” he said.

“I’m more of an introverted person in general. It was always very hard for me. I took on board too much negative energy, I think,” he said.

Avicii later returned to the more quiet life of a studio artist. Last year he put out a six-song EP that featured British pop singer Rita Ora.

2015: Avicii at the Sziget festival in Budapest. /AFP Photo

Genius and musical innovator

News of his death shocked the EDM community and fans, particularly in Europe, where he was a popular attraction at festivals and dance clubs.

Fellow British DJ Calvin Harris called his death “devastating news,” adding on Twitter that Avicii was: “a beautiful soul, passionate and extremely talented with so much more to do.”

Pop star Charlie Puth paid tribute to Avicii as “the man who really opened my eyes to what my production could one day sound like.”

“Avicii was a genius and a music innovator, and I cannot believe he is no longer with us. RIP to the very best,” Puth wrote on Twitter.

The son of Anki Liden, a prominent Swedish actress, Avicii had his start uploading tracks on the internet and was discovered by Dutch superstar Tiesto, who invited him to play at his residency in the clubbing hub of Ibiza.

His breakthrough single, “Levels,” adapted a sample of soul singer Etta James and earned him one of his two Grammy nominations.

He took his stage name from the Sanskrit word for the lowest level of hell in Buddhism, adding an additional “i” at the end.