Aloe Blacc dedicated his Billboard Live At-Home set Monday (April 20) to his former collaborator Avicii on the second anniversary of the Swedish DJ’s death, while raising money for Feeding America, which helps people struggling with food insecurity.
“Tim was a really important character because the music that we made was so amazing, and it went to No. 1 on the charts everywhere around the world,” Blacc said while introducing the first song. He kicked off the tribute concert with a rousing rendition of “Wake Me Up!,” the R&B singer’s highest-charting hit (though the song is listed only under Avicii, whose real name is Tim Bergling), which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 2013 and topped several charts from Pop Songs to Hot Dance/Electronic Songs. While Avicii’s memorable twinkling beats played in between the chorus and second verse, Blacc reminisced on how he felt when the song first came together.
“When I was with [‘Wake Me Up!’ co-writer] Mike Einziger and Tim Bergling in a studio at Mike’s house, we were just trying to make the best song that we could. We had no idea what was going to happen,” the 41-year-old singer recalled. “But luckily, it touched the world in an amazing way.”
He continued after “Wake Me Up!” finished: “It’s awesome when I go to concerts, people can sing the lyrics word for word and that they can join in. … I get to continue Tim’s legacy every time I’m onstage singing that song, so for all of you Avicii fans out there, that one was for you.”
Blacc’s second song for the set, “SOS,” also honored the late producer’s legacy — but Avicii’s first posthumous single featuring Blacc felt “a bit bittersweet,” according to the singer, whom Avicii handpicked for the vocals following the success of their first joint smash.
“It was quite a strange moment when the record label got in contact with me and sent the song and the lyrics asking me if I would sing it. They said that in Tim’s notes before he passed, he wanted for me to be the voice on this particular song. And for a song to be called ‘SOS’ in the wake of his passing, it was just kind of eerie,” he said. “I kind of wish I would’ve heard the song while he was still alive and could’ve asked some questions…. I had spoken with him a couple of months before he passed, and I knew people who had seen him just before, and he really felt like he was back to 100%. So at least we know that he made his road to recovery and he was there. All we can do now is just honor his legacy by sharing the music that he made.”
Behind the dancehall-inspired synth beats, the vulnerable lyrics expose Avicii’s cry for help during his longtime mental health struggles. He died by suicide on April 20, 2018, in Oman at 28 years old.
Watch Blacc’s whole Billboard Live At-Home performance below, and donate to Feeding America here.