Avicii death a coming-of-age in electronic music boom
NEW YORK - AFP
The Swedish DJ's death on April 20 at age 28 marks a symbolic coming-of-age for a genre that remains resolutely youthful, with the first electronic superstar to die near his prime.
Avicii, the stage name of Tim Bergling, was not a first-out-the-door pioneer of electronic dance music (EDM) a scene that has exploded since the turn of the century and last year was worth $7.4 billion, according to a study by the industry's International Music Summit in Ibiza.
But Avicii both showed the mainstream possibilities of EDM, and, by the end of his short life, had already become a sage elder who cautioned about the artistic and commercial overreach of the music.
Avicii came to define the new age of radio-friendly EDM in 2011 with "Levels," which entered the top 10 across Europe with its sample of soul great Etta James in between synthesizer riffs that soar with stadium-packing power.
Non-clubbers also heard EDM's energy when Avicii teamed up with rockers Coldplay on "Sky Full of Stars," with Chris Martin's voice giving way to fast-building, synthesized ecstasy.
But perhaps his most influential moment came in 2013 when he headlined the Ultra Music Festival in Miami. A year after he invited Madonna as a surprise stage guest, Avicii befuddled a crowd of ravers by bringing out a bluegrass band with a banjo for his soon-to-be-hit "Wake Me Up."
Avicii, who acknowledged his problems in the sole lyric to the song "Alcoholic," died while on vacation in Oman. The cause remained unclear, although police sources in the Gulf sultanate did not suspect foul play.
Avicii's death puts him nearly in the so-called 27 club; celebrated musicians who have died at age 27 including Cobain, Hendrix, Joplin, Jim Morrison, soul singer Amy Winehouse and Rolling Stone Brian Jones.