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Avicii, Dead at 28, Made His Career in Miami

Avicii at the American Airlines Arena in 2012.
Avicii at the American Airlines Arena in 2012.
Photo by George Martinez

The Swedish DJ/producer Tim Bergling, AKA Avicii, is dead at the age of 28.

His publicist, Diana Baron, said in the statement that the EDM superstar was found dead Friday, April 20, in Muscat, Oman.

"We are shocked and terribly saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend Avicii today. Our deepest prayers and condolences go out to Tim’s family in this difficult time," Ultra Music Festival wrote on its Facebook page today. "Tim was an awe inspiring creator, pioneer, artist and true trailblazer in modern music. We are very proud that we could call him a member of the Ultra Family during his prolific but unfortunately brief career."

Avicii's 2011 single “Levels,” which topped the Billboard dance charts and climbed to number 60 on the Hot 100, catapulted him to mainstream fame and made him EDM's poster child. An early version of "Levels" premiered on BBC's Radio 1 in December 2010, but the version featuring the iconic Etta James sample premiered at Ultra Music Festival in 2011.

He would later achieve another hit with the country-tinged "Wake Me Up," which, once again, he premiered at Ultra, in 2013.

Miami was actually an important city for Avicii. Many of his career highlights would happen in the Magic City, including the infamous Madonna Ultra cameo in which she controversially asked festivalgoers: “How many people in this crowd have seen molly?” He also hosted the Avicii Hotel during Miami Music Week, which took over the Marlin Hotel in 2013 and the SLS South Beach in 2014.

However, things seemed to begin unraveling for the superstar DJ during Miami Music Week 2014. Despite the high-profile SLS takeover, Avicii was forced to cancel his headlining appearance at Ultra due to a blocked gallbladder.

Still, he continued to work, collaborating with acts such as Carlos Santana and Wyclef Jean on the official FIFA World Cup anthem “We Will Find a Way" and producing the song "A Sky Full of Stars" for Coldplay’s sixth album, Ghost Stories.

In March 2016, he performed at Ultra, where he premiered new material. A week later, he said he was retiring from performing, and his final live performance took place in Ibiza August 28, 2016. Mixmag released a story in April 2016, "Fast and Furious: Why Avicii Had to Retire," chronicling his struggle with alcoholism and his breakneck work schedule. "Avicii's working environment drove him to the edge and eventually pushed him over it," the magazine wrote.

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But Avicii wasn't completely done with music. In 2017, he wrote on his website: "Last year I quit performing live, and many of you thought that was it. But the end of live never meant the end of Avicii or my music. Instead, I went back to the place where it all made sense — the studio."

He went on to release an EP, Avici (01), last August and starred in the documentary Avicii: True Stories that fall.

Whether Avicii was working on new material for 2018 remains to be seen, but dance music certainly lost one of the most important acts who help raise the genre's mainstream profile.

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