Scarcely more than a year ago, music fans worldwide mourned the loss of a singular talent. Avicii’s death at age 28 didn’t just plunge the music industry into a prolonged period of grief and soul-searching, it also marked an end of innocence for the EDM movement.
As Billboard’s dance editor then, I had to break the unbearable news to the world. April 20, 2018, became the publication’s highest-traffic day in its history, a joyless statistic that speaks only to how much Tim Bergling meant to us all.
I first met Tim in Belgium in 2014. He was playing the main stage at Tomorrowland, one of the world’s biggest dance music festivals. I remember darting through the crowd with future stars Kygo and Martin Garrix to catch his set. Both artists were just coming up then, and of course they idolized Avicii. He was the poster child for a new generation of bedroom producers with big dreams.
When we met after the show, Tim was weary but polite. I was startled by how fragile he looked in the flesh. His black T-shirt hung loose on his gaunt frame, and I felt a sense of unease as he slumped into a waiting SUV. Less than two months later, he canceled all his tour dates over health issues—the first in a chain of events that led to his retirement from touring in 2016.
The most puzzling part of Tim’s death is its timing. By all accounts, he was making some of the best music of his life. That sentiment was clear six months before his passing at the world premiere of the True Stories documentary in Amsterdam. Its hopeful ending would later be amended with a memorial slide.
Tim literally lived in the studio, and his house at 1474 Blue Jay Way provides the primary backdrop for Katie Bain’s cover story. It’s fitting that she explores his last days through the eyes of those closest to him—his collaborators. Paired with two previously unpublished photos and intimate candids shot by Tim’s personal photographer Sean Eriksson, it’s the proper in memoriam cover that the Swede hadn’t received but undoubtedly deserves.
Many tragic stars have graced SPIN’s cover—from Cobain to Cornell to Winehouse—but the magazine’s most memorable stories have always offered readers a glimpse into the individual behind the icon. I’m glad that we could do that for Tim today.