Avicii, the Swedish DJ behind hits like “Wake Me Up” and “Levels,” has died, his publicist confirmed on Friday (April 20). He was 28.
“It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii,” his publicist, Diana Baron, said in a statement. “He was found dead in Muscat, Oman this Friday afternoon local time, April 20th. 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 had retired from live performing in 2016, citing health concerns.
In a letter announcing the news, he said, “I will however never let go of music — I will continue to speak to my fans through it, but I’ve decided this 2016 run will be my last tour and last shows. Let’s make them go out with a bang!” adding, “One part of me can never say never, I could be back... but I won’t be right back.”
One of EDM’s true pioneers, Avicii rose to prominence in 2011 with his breakout smash, “Levels,” which earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording. The Etta James-sampling anthem became ubiquitous as EDM exploded around the world, and Avicii quickly became one of the genre’s most popular acts and biggest festival draws; a rare DJ who could fill arenas. Two years later, he scored a massive crossover hit with “Wake Me Up,” featuring Aloe Blacc, which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The track appeared on his debut album, True, in 2013.
Avicii’s second (and final) album, Stories, dropped in 2015 and featured Chris Martin, Wyclef Jean, Brandon Flowers, Gavin DeGraw, and more. As he continued to make waves in the EDM world, though, he began suffering a series of debilitating health issues, including acute pancreatitis. In 2014, he canceled several shows after having his gallbladder and appendix removed. Eventually, in 2016, Avicii shocked his global fan base when he announced his retirement from live touring in an emotional letter posted on his website.
“To me it was something I had to do for my health,” the DJ told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016. “The scene was not for me. 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. 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.”
In the past year, however, the four-time VMA nominee and two-time EMA winner appeared to be in the midst of a comeback. His death comes just days after he was nominated for a Billboard Music Award for top dance/electronic album for 2017's Avīci (01). The six-track EP marked the end of Avicii’s year-plus hiatus, and there appeared to be more new music on the way — in recent months, the DJ had filled his Instagram with several studio pics captioned “studiomode.”
After news of his death broke on Friday, many of Avicii’s EDM peers — including Calvin Harris and Steve Aoki — reacted on social media. See their tributes below.