Tim Bergling: who was Swedish DJ Avicii, when did he die - and why is he being celebrated with Google Doodle?

Bergling was better known to fans as Acivii, the DJ behind hits like Wake Me Up and Hey Brother

Tim Bergling, who would have turned 32 today (8 September), is being honoured with his very own Google Doodle celebrating his life and the legacy he left behind with his music.

Bergling, who passed away in 2018, will be better known to people as the Swedish DJ, producer and songwriter, known for massive hits like Hey Brother, Wake Me Up and Levels under the stage name Avicii.

Who was Tim Bergling?

Bergling was born in Stockholm on 8 September 1989, and started his musical journey at the age of eight. Bergling was inspired by his brother, also a DJ, and he started making music at 16.

In 2011, Bergling released dance anthem Levels under the name Avicii, which quickly began climbing the pop charts.

The following year, he set off on House for Hunger, a 2012 American tour that donated its proceeds to combating food insecurity worldwide. That year, Madonna joined him to close Miami’s Ultra Music Festival - the pair broke the festival’s live stream viewer record.

It’s estimated that between 2011 and 2016, Bergling played around 220 Avicii sets around the world -  including a five-year residency in Ibiza and sold-out shows at the 16,000 person Ericsson Globe arena in Stockholm.

Bergling quickly began racking up a number of music awards and nominations, including music awards like Swedish Grammis Award for Best Innovator (2012) and Best Artist (2014), as well as a World Music World for Best Electronic Dance Artist (2014).

Over in the US, he was also nominated for several Grammy awards, and he won the American Music Award for Electronic Dance Music Artists (2013), the Billboard Music Award for Top Dance/Electronic Song (2014) and the MTV Music Award for Best Dance Music Video (2018).

In 2016, Bergling announced his retirement from touring due to health problems. He had been struggling with stress and poor mental health for several years.

He spoke about his physical and mental health struggles in the 2017 documentary Avicii: True Stories, which was directed by friend and longterm collaborator Levan Tsikurishvili.

When did he die?

Bergling passed away on 20 April 2018 at the age of 28-years-old when he took his own life.

A funeral service for him was held on 8 June at the Skogskyrkogården cemetery in Stockholm, and he was buried at Hedvig Eleonora Church.

His family released a statement after his death which read: “Our beloved Tim was a seeker, a fragile artistic soul searching for answers to existential questions. An over-achieving perfectionist who travelled and worked hard at a pace that led to extreme stress.

“When he stopped touring, he wanted to find a balance in life to be able to be happy and to do what he loved most – music. He really struggled with thoughts about Meaning, Life, Happiness.

“He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace. Tim was not made for the business machine he found himself in; he was a sensitive guy who loved his fans but shunned the spotlight. Tim, you will forever be loved and sadly missed.

“The person you were and your music will keep your memory alive. We love you, The Family.”

After his death, his family created the Tim Bergling Foundation which “advocates for the recognition of suicide as a global health emergency and actively works to remove the stigma attached to suicide and mental health issues”.

The Foundation has also expanded into other areas which Bergling was passionate about, including climate change, global hunger, preservation of wildlife and endangered species.

In 2021, it was announced that the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm would be renamed as the Avicii Arena.

What’s the Doodle?

The Doodle itself shows a pencil-like sketch of Bergling wearing a hat and playing piano with a pair of headphones around his neck.

Hovering over the Doodle with your mouse will spark a message that reads: “Tim Bergling’s 32nd Birthday.”

Finally, if you click on the Doodle, a video will start playing, set to the tune of one of his most iconic songs, Wakes Me Up.

What follows is an animated montage of Bergling playing guitar, working on his laptop and collaborating with people.

Throughout the rest of the video, we see Bergling working on music, travelling and performing at gigs in front of huge audiences.

Who designed the Doodle?

The Google Doodle was illustrated by artists Alyssa Winans, Olivia When and Sophie Diao.

Speaking about the video, Winans said: “I knew from the beginning that I had to carefully consider what scenes we would include in the video.

“The truth is Tim struggled a great deal during the touring part of his adulthood, and I wanted to find a way to both touch on the realities of that experience, while still celebrating and honoring his life in a way that fit the lyrics and tone of the track.

“I ultimately decided to spend the majority of the video on the aspects of his life he loved, with a few symbolic moments to allude to some of the more emotionally challenging experiences.”

Winans said that the research stage of creating the Doodle was “very meaningful” to her.

She said: “As someone who has also struggled with depression, seeing the strength Tim showed during both the inspiring and difficult realities of his story in turn gave me strength. 2020 and 2021 have been hard years.

“To spend so much time watching footage of Tim’s warmth and the joy he took in creating music with genuine love and care made everything a little easier.”

In terms of what message she hopes people will take from the Doodle, Winans said that she hopes “people continue to love and cherish Tim’s memory”.

“I also hope people worldwide are inspired to learn more about and discuss mental health openly, especially as we collectively live through such a challenging time in global history where so many may be struggling in unseen ways,” she added.

What did Bergling’s father say about the Doodle?

The Tim Bergling Foundation collaborated on the Doodle, and Bergling’s father, Klas Bergling, shared his thoughts on the Doodle, and his son’s legacy.

He said: “I will never forget when Tim played in a park called Strömparterren in Stockholm in the early days of his career. He’d told me explicitly to not come — maybe because it wasn’t very cool to have your father around at that age — but I went anyway and hid behind a tree.

“It was a great evening and I remember feeling surprised, amazed and very proud. When I came to find him backstage afterwards, he was so glad I came.

“The Doodle is fantastic, my family and I feel honoured and Tim would have been very proud and love it. It is a friendly and warm story of a young man fulfilling his dream to be a DJ and at the same time telling us that our journey in life is not always easy despite fame and fortune.”

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