revisiting the alcohol-related death of tim bergling, aka avicii

This is something that really made me realize how much everything is being put back together for me in a good way. Last May I had a pretty critical brain surgery — a good thing, thank you — and this much later I’m still in the process of putting my pre-surgery memory back together again. Here’s a really interesting example:

I was cruising blogs today on my second coffee and came across a post by It’s Going to be Another Bumpy Year that reminded me of a pretty significant music-related death last April. Tim Bergling, Swedish musician, producer, and DJ professionally known as Avicii, committed suicide largely as a result of physical and mental abuse from continual alcohol abuse.

But I’m jumping ahead.

Bergling – who chose the moniker Avicii because the word stood for the lowest level of Buddhist hell – started his career uploading his music before timing and talent catapulted the then-20-year-old DJ to fame overnight. Apparently, his new manager in 2007 was the right move at the right time. Within a year, Avicii had landed on Forbes‘ Highest Paid DJs of 2012 list; by 2014, he was Number Three on the list thanks to an impressive $28 million in earnings that year, the result of a tortuous touring itinerary.

The dance number and vid Seek Bromance had really fired up a shift change for him in 2010, followed by the single Levels  in 2011. And less than a year later, he was onstage with Madonna. Honestly, not too bad for a guy who seriously started out messing with music as a 16-year-old in his bedroom “hoping to have a chance to play a gig in a real club,” whose first-ever “professional” DJ gig was playing to less than 50 students at a high school prom.

And by then his world had already begun to crumble.

Back in September, 2017, Avicii told Rolling Stone Magazine he was simply unwilling or unable to say “no” to the drinks that were constantly thrust into his hands, or to say “no” to the people, or to the partying, or to the lifestyle. And to further complicate matters, his health had been severely suffering for a few years.

In January, 2012, Avicii was hospitalized for 11 days in New York City with acute pancreatitis, definitely a consequence of heavy drinking. In March, 2013, he was hospitalized again for similar symptoms while touring Australia. Doctors urged him to have his gallbladder removed, but he declined.

On March 28, 2014, several days before he was due to headline Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Avicii was hospitalized a third time with excruciating pain, fever, nausea, and other symptoms of acute pancreatitis. In the hospital, he learned that not only had his acute pancreatitis returned, but his appendix had burst. This time, both his gall bladder and his appendix had to be removed. Months of scheduled events were canceled so he could recover. He was encouraged by doctors to begin taking Percocet, the highly addictive opioid pain reliever.

By the middle of 2015, the DJ had completely fallen apart. His last tour was in 2016 and then he decided to pull the road plug, desiring to give up touring and stick to studio work. But it was too late. His mental and physical health had begun to fail as a result of the constant major alcohol intake. Avicii was found dead after he committed suicide in Oman last April.

He was 28. I’m going to be 69 next month, so I’ve lived through the that the industry had to offer me. I was firsthand witness to a lot of crazy stuff, though, and I lost quite a few friends over the years who became casualties because they were unable or unwilling to establish some boundaries. It’s still pretty meaningful to go back through events like this one.

It means life goes on.

2 thoughts on “revisiting the alcohol-related death of tim bergling, aka avicii

  1. This was a much sadder story than got on in the media. And apart from RS and a few industry pubs, this made hardly a wrinkle here in the States. I don’t really have a point here, I guess, except that not a whole lot in the industry has changed. Not enough important people see there’s any reason for it to do so.

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