Google on September 8 paid tributes to Swedish superstar DJ and songwriter Tim Bergling, best known by his stage name Avicii, by dedicating a special doodle on what would have been his 32 birthday. The video doodle, illustrated by Doodler Alyssa Winans, Olivia When, and Sophie Diao, is an attempt by the search engine to honour his legacy as one of the first artists to elevate electronic music to mainstream global success.
Known for hit songs like "Levels" and "Wake Me Up", Avicii died by suicide at the age of 28 on April 20, 2018. Set to the tune of "Wake Me Up", the majority of the 1.22 minute-long video focuses on the aspects of his life he loved, with a few symbolic moments to allude to some of the more emotionally challenging experiences, said Winans.
"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," she said in a Q&A with Google Doodle.
Winans said she wanted to find a style that was a nod to the EDM (electronic dance music) style of Avicii's music, but was still flexible enough to support each of the emotions within the video.
"Style-wise, Olivia (Doodler) and I mimicked loose, sketchy pencil line animation with speckled airbrush rainbow sprays for the color," she added. Winans said she hopes people continue to love and cherish the memory of the late artist, who was born into a family of creatives in Stockholm, Sweden.
"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 further said.
By the age of 16, Tim was mixing tunes in his bedroom, and began writing uplifting, melodic electronic music soon after. In 2011 he released the dance anthem "Levels" under the name 'Avicii', breaking ground as one of the first electronic music tracks to climb the Pop charts.
Also a humanitarian, Tim launched 'House for Hunger', a 2012 American tour that donated its proceeds to combating food insecurity worldwide.
That year, music icon Madonna joined him in closing Miami's Ultra Music Festival, where the duo broke the festival's live stream viewer record. From 2011 to 2016, Tim played an estimated 220 Avicii sets globally, including a five-year residency in Ibiza and sold-out shows at the 16,000 person Ericsson Globe arena in Stockholm. In addition to breaking down sonic boundaries with hits like the 2013 bluegrass-house-hybrid "Wake Me Up", he was also among the first DJs and producers to share the spotlight previously reserved for vocalists and instrumentalists.
In his brief but enduring career as Avicii, Tim won several global music awards such as Swedish Grammis Awards for Best Innovator (2012) and Best Artist (2014), as well as a World Music Award for Best Electronic Dance Artist (2014).
In the US, he was nominated for several Grammy Awards and 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).
Klas Bergling, Tim's father, described the Doodle as "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". "The Doodle is fantastic, my family and I feel honored and Tim would have been very proud and loved it," he said. Klas also recounted watching his son play at Stromparterren, a park in Stockholm in the early days of his career, and called it an unforgettable experience.
"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," he said.
In 2021, it was announced that Stockholm's Ericsson Globe Arena would be changed to Avicii Arena. A symbol of Swedish pride, the arena stands today not only as an events venue but also as a hub for the exchange of ideas focused on mental health. This initiative is led by the Tim Bergling Foundation, an organization founded by the Bergling family to honour Tim's life and legacy, remove the stigma attached to suicide, and promote mental health awareness, especially among young people worldwide.
Additionally, the foundation supports aid work in areas where Tim had a passion such as climate change, global hunger and preservation of wildlife and endangered species. There is also a museum titled 'Avicii Experience' in Stockholm, which allows the visitors to "follow Tim's journey from a reclusive music nerd to a celebrated superstar, from his boyhood room where it all started to the Los Angeles studio where the biggest hits were created". His third album, 'Tim', was released posthumously in 2019.