Lubbock, TX is not the kind of place you would expect to be connected to the legendary producer Avicii. The small city is known for two things – Texas Tech University and Buddy Holly. The rock'n'roll pioneer whose death inspired the iconic song by Don McLean, ‘American Pie', was born in Lubbock. As soon as you set foot within city limits you are reminded of this fact on seemingly every street corner.
Texas Tech University is the driving economic force of the once sleepy, dusty town. The University has helped Lubbock expand from a regional hub to one of the fastest growing economies in America. The school is what brought me down to West Texas from Philadelphia about three years ago. Immediately upon arriving there was a sense of culture shock, I went from having electronic music events in my backyard every weekend to being forced to travel 5 hours+ to experience any sort of high profile touring act.
Connection In Unlikely Places
During my time finishing up my degree at Texas Tech I had the opportunity to intern with a local event production company called Caldwell Entertainment. While the company produces events ranging from weddings to tribute shows to original plays, it is best known for the wide array of high profile country touring acts it brings to Lubbock. Starting my internship I was a so-called “fish out of water”. The electronic music fan in the heart and soul of West Texas country music.
The company's CEO and founder, Don Caldwell would spend hours talking with me, teaching me about country music, and in turn him learning about dance music. Don is a man who exudes kindness and always made me feel welcome in what could have been considered foreign territory. In one of our long-winded conversations that left the other employees in the office rolling their eyes, he mentioned that Mac Davis – another Lubbock legend had an unlikely connection with dance music.
Avicii's Relationship With Lubbock, TX
Mac Davis is a celebrated singer/songwriter from Lubbock. Not only has he nabbed a few Grammy Awards in his storied career, but he also penned singles for some of the biggest acts in the world. He is so renowned in Lubbock one of the main drags in the city bears his name. Don attempted to explain to me who he once worked with, “Some big European DJ, Ada-something or other?”. I laughed, but then it clicked. There was only one artist who ever attempted to bridge the gap between dance music and country – Avicii.
I will never forget watching Avicii's 2013 Ultra performance. He debuted his new single, ‘Wake Me Up' and it bombed like a lead balloon. Little did the crowd know, they were hearing one of the biggest hits in dance music history for the first time ever. In the months following his Ultra set, Avicii would demonstrate an adept hand in mixing two entirely different worlds of music. Many don't know that one of the biggest hits off of his ground-breaking album True started as a folk song many years ago.
After realizing it was Avicii, Don pointed me to the back wall of his office, which is adorned with various newspaper articles cataloging his various achievements over the years. In one framed article, yellowed from the passage of time the local newspaper, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, spoke at length how one of Mac Davis' songs penned years ago was transformed into an international dance hit by “Avicci” called ‘Addicted To You'. I had to laugh at the misspelling of Avicii's name, but in a moment two of my worlds collided.
A short piece about the music video for ‘Addicted To You' was one of the first articles I wrote for EDM Sauce. It is unbelievable to think that was 5 years ago. Upon Avicii's passing yesterday I have been reflecting on how much the young artist influenced my own life. How his music helped me get through the toughest times of my life, and how his courage to introduce new sounds into the world changed electronic music forever.
At the time the coincidence of seeing his connection to a small West Texas city I ended up calling home was nothing more than a novelty. Now with his untimely death, I have found a new appreciation for this unlikely series of events. It really does show that Avicii's influence was much more far-reaching than anyone could ever imagine. Whether you love his earlier work or his later cross-over country inspired anthems, we lost a legend yesterday. Avicii will live on as one of the most influential artists of all time – both in Lubbock, TX and all over the world.