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.


welcome to monday. really.

So I’m going to have another cup of very good coffee before I take the dogs out to play in this brutally cold weather in which they love to play. Nice way to begin my day. So just enjoy along with me and the dogs. Really.

for radio friendly users: rock and recovery

Just to set the stage, here’s a fantastic 1985 blasto from the past: Little Steven Van Zandt and an incredible crowd of folks in a memorable song/vid to protest the former Apartheid Policy of South Africa. Keep your eyes out for Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, Joey Ramone (RIP), Bonnie Raitt, Lou Reed (RIP), Peter Gabriel, Nelson Mandela (RIP), Bono, Herbie Hancock, Jackson Browne… the list goes on and on. Check it out:

Go on. You know you want to watch the whole thing.

Here’s something really worth paying attention to: WAPS-FM is an Akron, OH radio station that specifically reaches out to people experiencing addiction, trauma and mental health issues. Centered in the the birthplace of Alcoholics Anonymous and the modern recovery movement – Rock and Recovery™ mixes music with stories and resources that will inspire and offer strength and hope to support each individual recovery journey

Rock and Recovery™ weaves “information capsules” – personal stories, anecdotes and real-time, modern intervention strategies – from professional health-care providers, recovering addicts and their families, artists, awesome musicians like Little Steven Van Zandt (Bruce Springsteen), Richie Furay (Poco, Buffalo Springfield), Graham Nash (Hollies, CSNY), Jorma Kaukonan (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna), and James Young (Styx).

Listen for the ultra-personal My Recovery Rocks sound bytes and Rock and Recovery™ Minutes on air and online, and download the app here for full live interviews, through Recovery Talks! In addition to the dedicated streaming audio website and mobile app, the site also offers a fast-growing and active social media community on Facebook and Twitter. Of course, that means I’d have to actually be on Facebook — you know, have an account — and of course, I’d rather stick rusted forks in both my eyes than go back on fb. However, Twitter’s an okay thing, I think, and this site’s stuff goes to my own page there just as it’s posted here.

So… there we be. Rock and Recovery™ is a good place to settle in for a bit. Check it out and see how it works for you.

keith richards quits drinking. kinda.

First of all, I guess I don’t get to run this classical little bon mot anymore:

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I have to admit when I first came across the news at Storm in a Wine Glass, I was a little surprised… but not a whole lot. And then reading the disappointing and totally unsurprising 3 ‘graphs at Consequence of Sound simply affirmed what I guess is the best to settle for. I mean, after all, Keith is the one who reportedly [i.e. never happened] had two complete blood transfusions to clean up his system. Be that as it may, here’s Keith’s take in Rolling Stone on the big shift: 

“It’s been about a year now,” Richards says quietly. “I pulled the plug on it. I got fed up with it.” While he admits he still has “a glass of wine occasionally, and a beer,” it’s a major step for a guy whose hedonism is a key part of his legend. “It was time to quit,” Richards says. “Just like all the other stuff.” Was it an adjustment? “You can call it that, yeah,” he says with a laugh. “But I don’t notice any difference really – except for I don’t drink. I wasn’t feeling [right]. I’ve done it. I didn’t want that anymore.”

The Stones. Wow… It’s been pretty interesting to watching these guys live a lot longer than they probably planned on. But, hey! That happens to a lot of us, moi assi. Oh, well. Enjoy.

henri nouwen: trust is the basis of life

Trust is the basis of life. Without trust, no human being can live. Trapeze artists offer a beautiful image of this. Flyers have to trust their catchers. They can do the most spectacular doubles, triples, or quadruples, but what finally makes their performance spectacular are the catchers who are there for them at the right time in the right place.

Much of our lives is flying. It is wonderful to fly in the air free as a bird, but when God isn’t there to catch us, all our flying comes to nothing. Let’s trust in the Great Catcher.

henri nouwen: daily meditation

One of the greatest dangers in the spiritual life is self-rejection. When we say, “If people really knew me, they wouldn’t love me,” we choose the road toward darkness. Often we are made to believe that self-deprecation is a virtue, called humility. But humility is in reality the opposite of self-deprecation. It is the grateful recognition that we are precious in God’s eyes and that all we are is pure gift. To grow beyond self-rejection we must have the courage to listen to the voice calling us God’s beloved sons and daughters, and the determination always to live our lives according to this truth.

Henri Nouwen

repost: “my name is roger and i’m an alcoholic”

Great post from soberlearning on a well-known movie critic’s healing journey

“Yes, I believe A.A. works. It is free and everywhere and has no hierarchy, and no one in charge. It consists of the people gathered in that room at that time, many perhaps unknown to one another. The rooms are arranged by volunteers. I have attended meetings in church basements, school rooms, a court room, a hospital, a jail, banks, beaches, living rooms, the back rooms of restaurants, and on board the Queen Elizabeth II.”

Read the whole thing. Consider it a vigorous investment of your time.

the acting federal drug czar and the power of recovery

991143-6-20140829085902-nations-drug-czar-is-recovering-alcoholicHere’s a lengthy and thorough article from the Yakima Herald Republic on Michael Botticelli, President Obama’s nominee for top drug control official. It’s a story many of us are familiar with at Club East, if for no other reason than from personal experience. Nevertheless, Botticelli’s story is concrete evidence that — for once — an understanding heart and a clear head are behind the wheel in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

early bird vs worm

broncosI guess I may as well get out there now and project that — barring unforeseen circumstances to Manning — the Denver Broncos will most likely take on the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Oh, and the Colts will be lucky to win 10 games this season.

robin williams did not die from depression.


The latest issue of Psychology Today has a provocative take on what so many people have been struggling to make sense of in the past few days. I certainly don’t know enough to add to an intelligent discussion, but this writer certainly seems to know what he’s talking about.

What he died from was des-pair* (possibly the most life threatening part of depression).

And by des-pair I mean feeling utterly:

1. Hopeless – unpaired with a future that was worth living
2. Worthless – unpaired with any things you could do to take away some core feeling of worthlessness
3. Useless – unpaired with feeling you helped the world and/or unpaired with any lasting treatment that would take away your despair
4. Helpless – unpaired with feeling there was anything you could do to make yourself feel better in a lasting fashion
5. Meaningless – unpaired with feeling that anything you did mattered
6. Purposeless – unpaired with anything other than making other people laugh which wasn’t enough
7. Pointless – unpaired with feeling there was any reason to go on given the above.

Read the whole thing. This makes me want to know more. And it compels me to take a critical look at myself.

r.i.p. robin williams: 1951-2014

As someone who has dealt most of my life with depression, I think most people fail to understand it has virtually nothing to do with one’s success or security. Depression is frequently chemical and almost always has a component of low self-esteem, or emotional injury buried below the surface just waiting for us to get hungry, alone, lonely or tired. Something as simple as lack of sleep can trigger it. We are soulful, but oh so fragile. The humor makes us only appear stronger than we actually are. Alcohol and drugs make it worse even though too many people self-medicate with them.

All that just to say the loss of Robin Williams is grievous on so many fronts. It doesn’t look as though he did enough to get the help he really needed. It’s our loss, too, of course

P.S. — The best article I saw shared last night was a 2010 interview piece in The Guardian that was ostensibly about his newest movie at the time but ended up to be more about his sickness and sadness. With the unwieldy title Robin Williams: ‘I was shameful, did stuff that caused disgust – that’s hard to recover from’, it shows a broken man longing for wholeness. A man desperate for love and laughs.

stevie ray vaughn’s story.

We lost a great guitarist way, way too soon. More importantly, this guy was moving forward on the healing journey. This audio of SRV at his AA home group — the Aquarius Group in Dallas on Jan. 1st, 1990 — is a great testimony of how he came out of the long, dark tunnel.