The legend that was Avicii

Brooke Nicholson | Arts & Entertainment Editor

Courtesy Variety

It always appears as a shock at first. Another person living their life in the spotlight has passed away, and more often than not, by their own accord. For the third-highest paid DJ in the entire world, Avicii, Tim Bergling, struggled to get his feet off the ground in the beginning of his career.

At 16, he began producing music in the confines of his bedroom in Sweden and posted his recordings and beats on some of the top EDM websites. His songs were being discovered for their intense beats and hooks, most people did not like most of the stuff he was producing, but decided to travel to Miami in 2009 to provide EDM music for parties.

In 2011, the DJ released “Levels,” the song essentially launching his career, and not soon after, was getting paid more than $250,000 per gig after signing with Island Records.

But a lot of people still weren’t buying the DJ’s music. In 2013, at Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, the DJ decided to debut one of his new songs, “Wake Me Up,” which promptly got him booed. The song turned out to be a huge hit for Avicii’s career a little while later, selling more than four million copies of the song, and ended up airing on many radio stations across the world.

But even with the mounting successes Avicii was racking up, there was no shortage of failures and setbacks he endured along the way. The DJ suffered from acute pancreatitis that landed him in the hospital in 2012, along with getting his gallbladder removed a whole year after doctors advised him to do so. Avicii wasn’t known to eat healthily, and the acute pancreatitis mostly resulted from a habit of drinking heavily.

Avicii appeared to drink a lot because he was around parties all the time, but later he explains that he drank in order to make social situations easier for him. People began commenting on how skeletal he looked, and eventually had to cancel a series of shows in 2015 after feeling so worn out and run down. He decided to stop touring altogether in 2016.

The announcement that Avicii was not touring anymore received both immense support and extreme backlash, mostly from friends and family. He described that he didn't believe he 'received the support he was hoping for when he made the announcement. He returned to his home in Sweden and just started making music the way he was used to again.

Without the big production of touring and stage shows weighing on his shoulders he was able to focus again, and planned on releasing three new EPs. Friends and family described him as the kind of guy that seemed pumped and excited for the future of his career. That’s why it seemed so shocking when Avicii was found dead at an estate in Oman, near Saudia Arabia, from apparent suicide by a broken wine bottle.


In a documentary about Avicii and his life as an internationally celebrated artist, “True Stories,” that released for one night only in 600 movie theaters nationwide, Avicii was heard saying he was "going to die if he didn’t stop playing shows" six months before he committed suicide.

There were times when Avicii was shown working throughout an entire day without eating, sleeping wherever he could and continuously telling others that doing shows wasn't what he liked to do. Although Avicii has quit doing shows and was working on three new EP's before the time of his death, he continuously told the camera he never really had a plan for his future, but he was simply going with the flow. It was apparent throughout the documentary that Avicii was slowly declining, getting stuck in a hole that he couldn’t seem to get out of.

So why has suicides by some of the world's most talented people been such a shock to those who might've been exposed to the warning signs?