New York (AFP) – Avicii, one of the world’s most successful DJs who helped lead the global boom in electronic music, died Friday in Oman, his representative said. He was 28.
Two years after his unusually early retirement due to nagging health concerns, the Swedish DJ was found dead on a visit to the Gulf kingdom’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.
“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 helped produce Madonna’s last album and created a global hit out of Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars,” to which he added a layer of energetic electronica.
His biggest hits on his own included “Wake Me Up,” which went to number one across Europe in 2013 and featured the soul singer Aloe Blacc.
– 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 announcing his retirement 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.
– ‘Genius and musical innovator’ –
Avicii — who for years was one of the world’s most lucrative electronic musicians– in 2016 made number 12 on the list of top-paid DJs of Forbes magazine, which said he earned $14.5 million in the previous year.
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.
Deadmau5 — a fellow top DJ known for his outspokenness who had mocked Avicii when he quit so young — offered his “sincerest and most heartfelt condolences.”
“Banter aside, nobody can deny what he has accomplished and done for modern dance music and I’m very proud of him,” Deadmau5 tweeted, adding: “I would have enjoyed nothing more than ripping into Avicii well into and beyond our 60s.”
The son of Anki Liden, a prominent Swedish actress, Avicii had his start uploading tracks on the internet and was discovered by the 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 for stylistic reasons.
In a 2013 interview for Spotify, which helped popularize his music, he was asked what he wanted to be doing in 10 years.
“Hopefully the same thing, though I may not be playing live as much, maybe producing more music,” he said.