Country Artist, Cowboy, & Troubadour Luke Bell Has Died at 32
This story has been updated (see bottom).
He was one of the most authentic and magnetizing artists to grace the country music art form in the modern era. And those who knew Luke Bell, they know this assessment is in no way hyperbole or flattery. Even though he released only one album, in that single volume, Luke Bell captured a bygone era, aura, and mood in country music that escapes even the most adept and gifted of country music artists today. They’re addled by the filter of modernity that Luke Bell was strangely immune from. He was not of this time or place, and never fit in it comfortably. That was his gift, and his burden. As troubled as he was talented, Luke Bell nonetheless left his mark. And through the gift of his music, Luke Bell leaves the Earth and more pleasant place than he found it.
Having gone missing on Saturday, August 20th in Tucson, Arizona, Luke Bell was found today, August 29th, 2022, not far from where he disappeared, and in a manner we all feared he would be when we first heard the news. Confirmed by Saving Country Music through Luke Bell close friend, confidant, and the guy whose been caring for him for the last six years—traditional country artist Matt Kinman—Luke Bell has passed away at the age of 32.
Luke Bell was never one of staying in one place for very long. That was part of his magic. Born in Lexington, Kentucky on January 27th, 1990, and raised in Cody, Wyoming, he tried to go to college for a bit in Laramie and started playing in a band in a local bar. But it was a chance meeting with singer/songwriter Pat Reedy that opened up Luke’s mind to and entirely different world he’d hadn’t been exposed to previously. “[Pat] pulled through in an ’85 Datsun diesel pickup truck with a homeless painter and a half wolf dog. It was just a picture of a different part of earth,” Luke told Saving Country Music in 2016.
Luke Bell was in Austin, TX, bumming around the infamous Hole in the Wall bar near the University of Texas campus around 2011, when Mike and the Moonpies, Leo Rondeau, and Ramsey Midwood were the artists-in-residence, and a man named Dennis O’Donnell was the bartender of note. Luke would couch surf around the area, and perform at the Hole in the Wall when they would let him, which was not often since he was still honing his chops, and was hounded for playing too loud in a rock and roll band he formed called Fast Luke and the Lead Heavy. They played from 3 to 5 p.m., and were eventually fired.
When Dennis O’Donnell opened the now famed White Horse on the east side of Austin, Luke took his bumming ways across town, working as a bar back at the new joint, building the fence around the bar’s patio, and eventually landing a regular performance slot on the stage with a decidedly more honky tonk style.
But the road eventually led Luke Bell to Nashville, where he recorded an album called Don’t Mind If I Do that he released on Bandcamp in 2014. Similar to how Bell had fallen right into the honky tonk scene in Austin at the right time, a similar fate found him in Nashville where he began performing regularly at the infamous Santa’s Pub. A video for his song “Sometimes” from 2016 shot at Santa’s illustrates just how immersed Bell became in that scene, with appearances from fellow performers like Logan Ledger, Kristina Murray, Erin Rae, and other notables in the east Nashville world.
And it wasn’t just the independent country community that was paying attention, and dutifully impressed. One of the top booking agents at the prestigious WME agency caught wind of Luke, and saw a star in the making. Soon, without any real national touring experience or record label backing, Luke Bell was put on tour opening for names like Willie Nelson, Hank Jr., and Dwight Yoakam.
All of a sudden a semi-homeless and generally adrift Luke Bell was presented a serious opportunity to make it in music, and it was due solely to the strength of his voice and music. In the spring of 2016 he would be signed to Thirty Tigers, and was set the release a self-titled album that took most of the best songs of Don’t Mind If I Do and combined them with a few new tracks. With his debut self-titled album, Luke Bell became a national name, drawing comparisons with the type of team and momentum Sturgill Simpson had behind him, with the same flight path toward big success.
But few were factoring in that the same authenticity the made Luke Bell so appealing to fans as the rugged Wyoming cowboy turned musical troubadour is also what made the business side of making music naturally unappealing to Luke Bell personally. Many had big plans for Luke, but Luke’s plans remained decidedly less aspirational. A tour was planned for the fall of 2016 to help promote the record, but it never went off.
Luke Bell continued to perform though, however infrequently, and was now regularly appearing with Smithsonian Folkways recording artist Matt Kinman. Always looking for the essence of authenticity, the Pickathon festival outside of Portland booked Luke in 2017, with Luke and Kinman playing side by side. In February of 2018, Luke Bell re-appeared in Memphis, Tennessee where he won Best Honky Tonk Male at the Dale Watson-backed Ameripolitan Awards.
But afterwards, Luke Bell virtually disappeared from the public eye. Though rumors and allegations would rise to the surface about his whereabouts and state of mind, it was just as hard to pin information down about Luke Bell as it was to pin down Luke himself. He would hop freight trains, and travel the country. But Luke’s life wasn’t all poetry during this period. He was hiding as severe battle with bipolar disorder that he ultimately would never shake. Stories would surface of unruly behavior, right beside ones about how Luke Bell could be the sweetest person you could meet. Some friends were forced to distance from him.
Long periods would go by where nobody heard from Luke Bell. He would end up in hospitals, or at times, incarcerated. Over the last 1 1/2 years though, Luke Bell was finally beginning to find a new level of equilibrium thanks to medication and treatment. He appeared in shows and live streams with Matt Kinman, appeared with Martha Spencer covering Guy Clark. But while out West recently, Luke’s mental state took a turn for the worse. While in Tucson with Matt Kinman, he ran off while Matt went to get something to eat.
Luke Bell’s struggles are now over, but the legacy of his music remains. And hopefully, like so many troubled troubadours before him, Luke Bell is just beginning to find its audience, his worthy appreciation, and his deserved legacy.
Luke Bell’s cause of death is pending an autopsy.
– – – – – – –
UPDATE 9/1/2022: The family of Luke Bell has released the following statement:
We have lost our beloved son, brother and friend and we are
heartbroken. Luke had a gentle heart, a wanderer’s spirit and a
musical gift that he was fortunate to share with us and the world. We
are so grateful to his friends and fans for embracing Luke and his
music. We would like to thank all of Luke’s fans, friends and family
who have been sharing stories and photos of happy times with him.
Unfortunately Luke suffered from the disease of mental illness, which
progressed after his father’s death in 2015. Luke was supported
through his disease by a community of loving family and friends.
Despite this, he was unable to receive the help he needed to ease his
pain. Our hearts go out to the millions of people affected by mental
illness who, like us, understand the devastating disappointment of a
system that consistently fails to provide caring solutions to those
As we navigate our heartbreak we respectfully ask for privacy to allow
us room to grieve and honor his memory. Our only comfort comes in the
fact that our Luke is finally free and at peace.
August 29, 2022 @ 7:37 pm
Beautiful tribute, Trigg. Terrible news.
Donna Louise Dolan
August 30, 2022 @ 4:17 pm
It’s difficult for us to understand his actions. You had a beautiful voice and harmony. Luke may you rest in the arms of God. 🙏 Prayers for his family and friend’s. Amen!
August 30, 2022 @ 5:25 pm
He had real talent great voice! First time I heard him sing !!!!
September 1, 2022 @ 12:56 am
At peace now no more demons . 🕊🧡🕯
August 31, 2022 @ 10:48 am
A lot of people aren’t aware of mental illness and the effects it has on an individual. A physical injury can be seen so people believe someone when they see the injury.
A mental illness is chronic and is dealt with everyday. The medicine helps control the depression and anxiety that come with it. It can’t be cured. The man was properly in a crisis and unfortunately acted on his impulses. 🙏
August 31, 2022 @ 1:47 pm
And part of the illness seems to be a lack of consistency in taking the medication as prescribed by the mental health care providers. Apparently, they feel “cured” and stop taking their meds.
August 31, 2022 @ 4:39 pm
Correct, and it goes far beyond that. Consistency in ANYTHING is compromised when someone is having a mental health crisis.
September 1, 2022 @ 12:12 am
Don’t pretend that the “medicine” is a cure all. Often it doesn’t help at all. The public, like you, seem to think if you take your pill every day then you’re ok. Far from it. Not to mention they have to be switched up because they stop working effectively. It’s way more complicated than people think.
September 2, 2022 @ 8:53 am
It’s sad if they feel bad they stop taking there med’s cuz there not working,if they feel good they stop taking there med’s cuz they need them it’s a nightmare trying to keep up with them RIP Luke
September 4, 2022 @ 2:13 pm
People also need a good psychiatrist who will take the time to get you on the right meds. So many of them are pill mills whose aim is to see how many patients they can process in an hour. (I was lucky I have panic disorder snd Lexapro fixed me.)
Virginia Hoge Williams
September 1, 2022 @ 12:26 am
I live with mental illness and I am on medication and it is a terrible disease. My heart goes out to anyone who Iives with any form of mental illness. Mine is depression and anxiety. His was Bipolar which is really difficult to live with. If only he had been on medication to manage it.. my heart goes out to anyone with any form of mental issues.. It is a hard and unhappy life..
September 1, 2022 @ 2:10 pm
Thank you so much for being so courageous to shine a light on the Mental Health.We will fight on to show we are tough and will not back down in this fight From Stacey #Teamcupcakeagainstcancer2022
September 1, 2022 @ 9:18 pm
I have major depression, anxiety order and do other issues sprinkled in. I have been living with this for over 40 yrs now, activitly treating it for 30 yrs. I have been on over 35 medications, one that I am on I have to take time off of it for it stops working. Everyone finds their own way to go forward. I have learned doing mindfulness (Linahan), my way has helped. I can have some serious fights with myself. All I have to say to anyone with a mental illness is to work to find out what works for you. If the bible, church, a light bulb or whatever helps you go for it. Learn about what it is and how you start to show your symptoms, what is your trigger, if you can. It is hard, having a mental illness is not a simple race, it is like driving unmarked roads, or a puzzle with no edges or picture that needs to be put together.
September 1, 2022 @ 12:11 pm
Jesus is the answer a lot of times for mentle illness JESUS WILL HEAL AND HE SAVES US FROM OURSELF BUT WE HAVE TO WANT JESUS FORGIVENESS AND BLOOD HE SHED FOR ALL SICKNESS BY HIS STRIPS WE ARE Healed THE BIBLE IS OUR SPIRIUAL FOOD . MAN CWNNOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE BUT BY EVERY WORD THAT PROCEDES OUT OF THAT BIBLE
OUT OUR BELLY WILL FLOW RIVERS OF LIVING WATER BITTER WND SWEET DOSENT COME FROM SAME WELL
Marie C Schoene
September 20, 2022 @ 4:19 pm
So so sad rip
September 20, 2022 @ 4:06 pm
His “actions” were the result of his disease. At a certain point a person with mental illness both loses hope in the future and the willingness and/or desire to ask for help. Treatment of mental health in this country is not great, not even close. Please “understand” that his “actions” need to be viewed through the same lens as any other illness. Saying you don’t (understand) is akin to saying you can’t understand how or why someone got cancer. How could they have done that to themselves? A disease created in large part by one’s lifestyle, i.e. diet, exercise, alcohol/drug consumption)
August 30, 2022 @ 4:44 pm
Rest In Peace u in heaven grace of the lord rest the lord allways rest on heaven rip
September 1, 2022 @ 4:28 pm
Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Not the bible or the ficti Christian Jesus
August 30, 2022 @ 8:38 pm
Just discovered this young man , WHAT A TRUE TRUE TALENT!!!!
August 31, 2022 @ 6:59 am
I just heard about him today. What a talented singer. Great singing voice. Such a tragedy. RIP 🙏🙏🙏🙏
August 30, 2022 @ 9:36 pm
Im so sorry gone so young god bless. So heart breaking
August 31, 2022 @ 2:37 am
Rest in peace Luke y ok u have no more worry’s.
September 20, 2022 @ 5:43 am
I stumbled onto this story after reading of the autopsy results.
Sadly, prior to his going missing I had never heard of Luke Bell. Watched ‘sometimes’ video on YouTube and am mesmerized by his style.
This is a beautiful eulogy, you paint a portrait with your words, and like many who commented on YouTube I am spreading Luke’s music far and wide.
Jerry Clower's Ghost
August 29, 2022 @ 7:44 pm
August 29, 2022 @ 7:44 pm
Goddamn. What a gut punch late on a Monday night.
“They all want to be Hank Williams, they don’t want to have to die.”
In complete and utter shock. Thoughts and prayers for the family and friends. Rest in Paradise, Luke Bell.
August 29, 2022 @ 11:26 pm
They all want to be Hank…
Or Luke the Drifter.
August 31, 2022 @ 4:33 am
My condolences to Luke’s family and friends, he was too young to pass away living. May he RIP in the arms of his God.
August 31, 2022 @ 5:19 am
You had to use GODS name in vain? Really! GOD didn’t has no reason to be cursed.
August 31, 2022 @ 5:13 pm
Amen!!! I was so shocked to see the words in print by Hoss Cartwright! So disappointed in him to use that language at such a time as this! May he see his error and repent!
August 31, 2022 @ 5:56 pm
Who are we to judge, Kitty? That’s the job of our lord and savior, not the realm of mortals.
August 31, 2022 @ 9:49 pm
prayer go out to you & your family ! See you in heaven ! Taken to soon ! Just heard you for the first time ! So much promise ! Rest In Peace now like! In Jesus arm’s ! 🙏🏻
September 2, 2022 @ 9:25 am
Really, people, I don’t give a good gosh darn what words you combine with my name. The whiners need to keep it to themselves. If you don’t like rough language maybe Country music’s not for you.
August 29, 2022 @ 7:48 pm
Terrible news. It’s terrible to say but one of the many things you’re great at is writing obituaries. You could tell in the other article how much you care. Reason why Eddie Stubbs was brought to Nashville to write them for the aging stars that would be passing soon enough. I remember hearing and reading about Luke on here many times back then.
August 30, 2022 @ 6:39 am
Yeah he’s very quick with them. Really ahead of everyone else
August 30, 2022 @ 5:34 pm
So sad, but Good knows what hrs doing. So praying for family in their loss.
August 29, 2022 @ 7:50 pm
Damn. Totally tragic. Another cross on the side of the lost highway
August 31, 2022 @ 4:26 pm
Excuse my ignorance on the line you posted, but there must be a song in that?
August 31, 2022 @ 6:56 pm
Lost Highway – Hank Williams
August 29, 2022 @ 7:59 pm
I was so hoping to see him come out on the other side of what he was going through. He certainly seemed to have found his place behind a guitar.
Andrew Scott Wills
August 29, 2022 @ 7:59 pm
So sad. Thanks for writing this.
August 29, 2022 @ 8:00 pm
Luke and Matt stayed at our home while playing in N Az. He had an incredible grin. Tremendous voice. I know Matt is devastated. Today country music lost a beautiful soul. Luke and his music have been etched permanently in my family’s life.
August 29, 2022 @ 8:07 pm
I wanted to believe he would turn up and get help, but deep down I feared this. RIP Luke, may your mind and soul be at ease.
August 29, 2022 @ 8:08 pm
August 30, 2022 @ 5:02 am
You failed the lesson on context clues back in second grade, didn’t you?
August 31, 2022 @ 2:46 am
Is it really necessary to be that way? They taught us if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
August 31, 2022 @ 7:25 am
Rude much? Not everyone comprehends at the same level. Grow up.
Daniel J.Connors III
August 31, 2022 @ 12:01 pm
Thank you very much for sticking up for me Shelby….
Daniel Joseph Connors III
August 31, 2022 @ 12:49 pm
No one should be talking about resting in God’s arms or haven. If it was a suicide, overdose might be a different story.
September 1, 2022 @ 5:43 pm
Just keep negative words from this . Geeeeez some of you are cold in feeling. I pray for you all that speak negative words.
August 30, 2022 @ 10:44 pm
In addition to bipolar disorder Luke also had a substance abuse problem. More than likely he died of an overdose.
August 31, 2022 @ 10:00 pm
When you’re distraught you are not in you’re right mind and. Yes God knows it all. I’m sure He would take him into His arms…..
Frozen Alaskan Beard
August 29, 2022 @ 8:23 pm
The moment I first heard Rattlesnake Man in 2014, I thought to myself, “Damn son, now this is what I’m taking about!” Immediately, I fell for the sound, the style, the vibe. By the time I got halfway through the album, I knew I had found an artist that would speak to me for years to come.
Luke Bell was heavy on my rotation for the next few years, and I even bought tickets to see him in Kansas City (and a flight from Anchorage). Sadly, he cancelled the whole tour, but I went to Kansas City anyway since I had already paid for the flights.
Luke Bell continued to be a major part of my musical identity for years…and he was the artist I would play for folks when they said, “No one actually plays country music anymore.”
I always hoped that he would find his way and make a comeback. Sadly, it was not to be . So heartbreaking.
I’ll be playing some Luke Bell tonight by the campfire while I sip on some Weller. And I’ll do the same thing again for many more nights to come. RIP to a true honky tonk legend.
August 29, 2022 @ 8:25 pm
Bipolar disorder is awful. I hate it. My nephew is two years younger than Luke was, and we’ve been dealing with it and him for over 10 years. It has its up and downs. The ups are not as common as we would like. It’s a constant battle, and a near constant adjustment to his meds and attempts at alternative (pricey) treatments. I hate that Luke only saw one way out. Requiescat in pace, Luke Bell.
August 31, 2022 @ 5:14 pm
You are so right. Bi polar is tough and a lot of people won’t ask for help. We need to listen more and help the as needed. Use medication wisely and keep a diary of how things are going. They need to look back and learn how to deal with it as best as possible. Prayers to a higher power doesn’t hurt.
August 29, 2022 @ 8:28 pm
Sad news. Just the other day I was listening to his album and thinking I am hopefully I will get to hear another one. Guess that wasn’t meant to be. Prayers to his family during this time.
Erin Rae McKaskle
August 29, 2022 @ 8:33 pm
Thank you, Trigger, for writing this beautiful tribute. It truly honors him and his music. Love you, Luke & Rest In Peace.
August 29, 2022 @ 8:49 pm
A fine tribute as always. You are a talented writer as was Luke a talented performer.
August 29, 2022 @ 8:52 pm
To have someone this young, and yet musically of a vastly different (and arguably vastly better) time in country music, die, especially with the issues he had with bipolar disorder, is quite catastrophic, no matter which way you slice it. It behooves us to be reminded that all mental disorders, including bipolar disorder, are by no means limited to artists of any stripe, they are all out there, oftentimes hiding in plain sight. And whatever those problems are, we need to understand more about them and the people that are troubled by them. It also reminds us yet one more time of what President Kennedy once said, that “We are all mortal”.
Here is hoping that Luke Bell has found a place of peace in that great Western heaven.
August 30, 2022 @ 9:51 pm
Often times beautifully talented people are burdened by mental illness. My son is 54 and been battling mental illness since he was about 13. It has been a very heart wrenching journey for us both. He is a talented graphics painter and sings opera quite well. His life is a shambles at present. He has attempted suicide numerous times. He has been sick with cancer for about 5 yrs.now and is in remission tumor wise but not cellular. He is both mentally and physically ill. I will not be surprised if he takes the same route out of life.
August 30, 2022 @ 11:41 pm
Prayers going up for you, Linda.
August 31, 2022 @ 7:01 am
I’m sorry about your son and I pray you won’t have to go through that ultimate anguish. My son has schizophrenia and has been suffering since 2013. Even though he takes his meds, he is still so disabled. Heartbreaking.
I was not familiar with Luke bell, but I will listen to him. I’ve been reading the comments and just thought I would reach out.
August 31, 2022 @ 10:45 am
Mental illness is so devastating, not only to the person but their family and friends as well. Having just lost Naomi Judd, I feel terrible for this young man’s family and friends. May he rest in peace and is no longer fighting his demons! Prayers going out to you Linda and hope your circumstance turns out to be a positive one.
September 1, 2022 @ 8:31 am
Linda my prayers are with you. I know all 3 of you have and are going through such great pain. I hope I’m not overstepping my bounds but if I didn’t say what I believe it would be wrong of me as I’ve found such sweet love from Jesus. He loved us so much He died for our sins. All that He asks is to confess our sin and invite him into your hearts. He will always be there for you all. ♥️ He is a God of eternal love. This life is short compared to Eternity. If I can help in anyway I’m Facebook.
August 29, 2022 @ 8:53 pm
Fuck, man. That’s so awful.
I can remember when the exclusivity broke on that cover of “Jealous Guy” and it got posted here. It really drove home the notion that Luke’s performances rivaled those of some of the greatest professional athletes in that they made something so incredibly difficult look so easy.
I always wondered about the man behind the limited discography. So while the morning’s story was equally as awful, it did put things in perspective and solve a lot of mystery. It’s just another shitty reminder that some of our most gifted, creative talents are often afflicted and burdened in other ways that we never know about.
August 30, 2022 @ 7:24 pm
Beautifully put sir. I don’t know why I cried, when I saw the awful news this morning. Luke Bell wouldn’t have known me from the man in the moon, but I knew him through his gorgeously crafted art. When I heard he was missing, I was hoping for the best. I’ve been listening and reminiscing to his music all day.
August 29, 2022 @ 9:07 pm
Damn, this one hurts pretty bad. Thank you for writing this piece, Trig. A beautiful tribute to a talent lost too soon.
August 29, 2022 @ 9:50 pm
Man, my last comment was wishful thinking indeed. This one really hurts.
August 29, 2022 @ 9:57 pm
Luke Bell helped me through some tough times. You can feel his music in your bones. Country Music lost an amazing talent. This is terrible news. RIP
August 29, 2022 @ 10:00 pm
I came to know his music through this site. And for a period of time I listened almost exclusively to his album. It’s so good.
I know he’s found the biggest skies he can find.
August 31, 2022 @ 6:30 pm
Same here. Love his music and had tickets to a show on the tour that got canceled. I always tried to find out how he was doing through various sources but he’d basically vanished the last 3 years and I’d pretty much given up hope he’d make a comeback. RIP Luke. And thanks Trig for helping us all discover such a talent.
August 29, 2022 @ 10:10 pm
Just too sad. Great write-up, Trigger. RIP Luke, hope you’ve found the peace that seemed to have eluded you.
August 31, 2022 @ 3:38 pm
Depression does not discriminate
Terry Lee Kiser, Sr
August 29, 2022 @ 10:11 pm
It is said that the good die young. Sad to hear of his passing. I only knew a little bit about him but he certainly qualified as a good man in my book. And he left us far to soon. RIP, Young man!
August 29, 2022 @ 10:34 pm
It’s always sad to hear when a country artist passes but this one especially hurts. So thankful I got to see him live, but I’m heartbroken hes gone. RIP Luke
August 29, 2022 @ 11:04 pm
Sad, but he lived his life on his terms and there’s something to be said about not being bogged down in the mundane and routine. Who hasn’t wondered where that train was heading and what alternative life awaited its destination? A true troubadour and talented free spirit who made the most of his short time on this planet.
August 29, 2022 @ 11:23 pm
fucking awful news, thoughts to his family and friends.
August 30, 2022 @ 5:05 am
How sad. He sure had a ruff short life. 🙁
Worth from the Beach
August 30, 2022 @ 5:09 am
I don’t know why but for some reason I wanted to Google Luke Bell and hope to see some new tour dates pop up, never had I imagined to come across this sad news. My condolences to his family and friends. His music was a welcoming new voice and his lyrics spoke so much to me. I will continue to keep offering up his tunes to anyone that will listen. RIP Luke
August 30, 2022 @ 6:09 am
I remember when my ex-wife and I first moved to Nashville and were looking to find a live show to see. I heard Luke was playing Acme, and we HAD to go. We ended up chatting with Luke after his set, and he mentioned that he played at Santa’s on the occasional Sunday night, and suggested we come check it out. We pulled up at that triple-wide trailer, not sure of what we were walking into. As we walked in and scanned the crowded room of two-steppers, and swing-dancers, I caught Luke’s eye as he was chatting with friends near the bar. He was dressed like Marcel Ledbetter in overalls with no shirt and a trucker hat. She and I were strangers at Santa’s, new to Nashville, and didn’t know a soul. Yet, the way Luke’s face just lit up with that signature goofy grin of his, immediately set us at ease and made us feel welcome. I’ll never forget the first person who made me feel like I had a friend in this town, and who first showed me that real Country Music can still exist. I hope you found “the biggest shade tree you can find,” and are resting well, Luke.
September 1, 2022 @ 8:14 am
He shared his kindness with you. That shows the person he was. He wasn’t trying to be anyone except himself! He was extremely talent and could be a star one day if he wanted to. But just wanted to play his music. He have emotional. I don’t know if he used drugs or drink so I won’t speak to that. But isn’t common now days for people to self medicate when they’re in pain? I’m glad you experienced knowing this fine young man. I loved your story. Thank you. As for this reader she deserves an award for her thoughtfulness and care of his own story he didn’t get to finish writing. This is a very sad story but I hope everyone who reads it’s thinks about their own life and thos around you. Is there someone around you that may need your help as a friend? Remember if you are a person who judges you’ll be judged according to your standards. Are you prepared for that? Let this sweet man be left in peace. May I say if you don’t know Jesus please accept Him as your Savior. All Jesus asks is you admit you’re a sinner. Thank Him for dying in your place. Believe He was God and say I believe you are my Savior and invite him into your life. YOU never know when death will come knocking on your door. The words I hear Him say in that song I felt he was talking about himself. That’s part of mental illness you may lose yourself for hours or even days. When he asks wherever you been he was talking of himself when he saw himself in the mirror. He believe he was crying out for help but no one could help him. I didn’t know him but he’ll be missed. Prayers to his loved ones. 🙏 🙏 🙏 AMEN
August 30, 2022 @ 6:30 am
Sad news. Luke Bell was special. Bit surprised that you write he released only one album. Not only because you mention two albums, Don’t Mind If I Do from 2014 and the self titled album from 2016 that was distributed by Thirty Tigers, but even more so because there is a third album. His debut was also self titled and released independently in 2012. Recorded in Austin with Ricky Ray Jackson, Kim Deschamps, Dan Cohen, Peter Tissot, David Beck, Katie Whitbeck, Dees Stribling, Catie Offerman and Paul Cauthen. It’s got 12 songs and none of those are on the other two records. And it’s actually my favorite album of Luke Bell. All three albums are reviewed on Dutch website http://www.altcountry.nl. If you can’t read Dutch, push the British flag and Google translates it into English.
August 30, 2022 @ 8:08 am
“Don’t Mind If I Do” from 2014 basically became the self-titled release from Thirty Tigers in 2016 with some changes. That is why I’m saying “one album,” but with that qualifier.
As for the 2012 album, as much as I have covered Luke Bell, I have never heard it. I asked him about it at one point and he basically said it’s out-of-print, and he seemed to have no desire to have it out there in the public. Perhaps it’s available on some pirate download sites, but I don’t play that game. If Luke Bell didn’t want it out there, neither do I, though it is an interesting piece of info/footprint on his career.
It’s hard to know how/if we should count records that artists abandon. Sturgill Simpson had two records from Sunday Valley, and has done his best to bury both of them, especially the first one. Hellbound Glory had a first album out there very people have heard and is out-of-print.
August 30, 2022 @ 11:40 am
Is it possible that Matt or others might be able to re-release the 2012 album now, or create a new album from live performances or any other studio cuts that might remain?
August 30, 2022 @ 3:03 pm
That’s a good question. Luke did have a manager who’s been overseeing his music affairs through everything. That’s a question I’ll pose to him, but perhaps a bit down the road at a better time.
August 30, 2022 @ 10:53 pm
Yes, the 2012 self titled album is his real first album and it’s great. A CD copy occasionally pops up on Ebay.
September 1, 2022 @ 8:19 am
I made a few mistakes in my writeup. I felt so much I didn’t proof read it. I meant to say this writer of this story deserves an award! The rest I’m sure you can translate my thoughts. Thank you.
Sir Adam the Great
August 30, 2022 @ 6:34 am
I was holding out hope when you were saying there was an update…
I had the pleasure of seeing him at the Basement in Nashville at the time his self-titled album came out. An amazingly talented guy. Unbelievable….
God be with his family.
August 30, 2022 @ 6:41 am
Sad to hear this news.
I really liked Luke Bell, we saw him in France in 2019.
Sickness ? Accident ? This is very sad
Gerard for WRCF Radio France
August 30, 2022 @ 7:51 am
Like too many greats before him, Luke Bell died of the Lovesick Blues.
I’m not being coy here. We truly don’t know a cause of death at this point, and I’m not sure it is fair to assume. He was found in Tucson. From what I understand, foul play is not immediately suspected, but we won’t know anything concrete until an investigation is concluded and an autopsy is done.
August 30, 2022 @ 6:48 am
Concert de Luke en France en 2019.
August 30, 2022 @ 10:52 am
Thank you for sharing, lovely! Mercí
August 31, 2022 @ 4:31 am
Merci bien pour cet info sur youtube.
Luke chante en France
August 30, 2022 @ 7:40 am
It is not the quantity. It is the quality.
August 30, 2022 @ 7:41 am
Geez. I was hoping he would come back like all the times in the past, and then eventually find internal peace/balance. Praying for all of those suffering from mental illness.
August 30, 2022 @ 7:53 am
Absolutely heart breaking. We’ve lost a real treasure. Luke’s legend and music will live on and we are are all the better for his contributions. Safe travels, Luke. RIP.
August 30, 2022 @ 8:13 am
This breaks my heart. Rest in Peace Luke
August 30, 2022 @ 8:49 am
Unfamiliar with his music, but I might have to check him out. May he Rest In the Peace of Christ.
August 30, 2022 @ 9:06 am
Rest easy bullfighter
August 30, 2022 @ 9:21 am
Very, very sad. He had such a special quality.
August 30, 2022 @ 9:45 am
His last song ever put out is haunting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tdKs5DKeXE&ab_channel=LukeBell
August 30, 2022 @ 5:46 pm
Damn… beautiful.. and haunting
August 31, 2022 @ 5:21 pm
I never comment here but…
Luke Bell was an incredible artist.
Thank you Trig for the obit.
I am so sad.
August 31, 2022 @ 7:04 am
I watched this one too, which looks to have been posted a couple of weeks earlier:
They are both beautiful (and maybe autobiographical) songs done very well. Just drives the point home what country music has lost. And makes me want to hug my kids. Heartbreaking.
August 31, 2022 @ 7:23 am
Your article caught my eye. Listened to his song and tears welled in my eyes. He has a new fan. RIP Luke Bell.
August 30, 2022 @ 9:48 am
His close friend, Matt Kinman, believes that psychotropic medication could have “played a role” in his disappearance and death.
August 30, 2022 @ 10:45 pm
Poor Matt. He cared so much about Luke. I don’t do Facebook anymore so I’ll leave my condolences here. Hang in there buddy.
August 30, 2022 @ 10:10 am
I understand what he was going through. Bipolar disorder is a tough hand to play. Add to that the frustrations of the music biz (scam) and you’re guaranteed a life of suffering and woe.
August 30, 2022 @ 10:12 am
One of the most genuine and unique voices. It ain’t easy to make the old sounds sound new. Most fail or rely on one gimmick, Luke was different he brought new life into old sounds like few can do.
August 30, 2022 @ 10:34 am
All blue, Lord, all blue
I’m all blue and I can’t say
The reasons that I feel this way
But I gotta go
Lord, I can’t stay
August 30, 2022 @ 11:26 am
very well said. thank you friend
August 30, 2022 @ 11:29 am
Devastated to hear this. I was first turned on to Luke Bell by a local musician here in my home town of KC. I believe he came across Luke at a music festival they both played. “Sometimes” was the first song I heard and I immediately bought Don’t Mind If I Do which played on repeat in my car for an indefinite period. I in turn introduced Luke’s music to many friends all of whom became big fans of his. We were all hoping that we would get some more music from him and were unaware the extent of his woes. Truly one of the best musicians/songwriters I have heard in the last ten years. We are all just extremely sad to hear this news. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
August 30, 2022 @ 4:02 pm
Awful. That last stoic song and half-smile at the end just leave a hole. I was hoping he’d turn up on an oil rig, or on a farm in Port Royal, Kentucky, or at some no-name watering-hole in west Texas. I loved knowing there was still a devil-may-care out there, somewhere.
He’ll be greatly missed.
Hank W JR
August 30, 2022 @ 4:09 pm
What a shame. When a country music sings similar to hank Williams, willie Nelson types comes around and brings back a bygone era life doesn’t seem to last very long. RIP Luke Bell
August 30, 2022 @ 4:26 pm
Goddamned. What a bummer. What album absolutely rips and I’ve been hoping and waiting for something else to drop. Sad that he couldn’t battle his own mental health. His soul will live on in his music.
August 30, 2022 @ 4:29 pm
The best thing to hear is hank Williams Junior replying to this young man it’s a sad thing that this happened and when this does happen it’s hard to find a match we’re lucky we had hank Williams Junior to Follow his father there’s so many people that love hank Williams Junior which also lost his daughter in something that we feel sometimes it shouldn’t of happened but sometimes God has a better place for people like this they are in a much better place than we are thank you God for letting them be here as long as you did
August 30, 2022 @ 4:42 pm
REST IN PEACE SWEET ANGEL! FLY HIGH WITH THE ANGELS! GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY ALWAYS! SENDING PRAYERS, HUGS AND LOVE!🙏🙏🙏🙏❤❤❤❤
August 30, 2022 @ 4:45 pm
So basically he either OD’d or killed himself. Wasted talent.
August 30, 2022 @ 5:30 pm
This is real rough. I’m pretty new to country music, only really started listening in around 2017. Luke Bell was one of the first artist that really moved me. He sounded like someone who walked out of a time machine from a bygone Era.
Don’t know what else to say. Heartbreaking.
David: The Duke of Everything
August 30, 2022 @ 6:37 pm
To be honest, I was praying for the best but expecting the worst after reading about him disappearing. Not much good to wax poetic. May he rest in peace.
August 30, 2022 @ 6:46 pm
Wow, Luke I love your music it has soul, and I can tell you’ve lived the stories. My son sits in jail, where his bipolar is finally medicated. May God rest your soul son. I will always treasure your music.
August 30, 2022 @ 8:30 pm
His journey goes on.
Rest in Peace
Be in Peace
August 30, 2022 @ 10:28 pm
Wow, my heart goes out to his friends and family. Thank you for posting this beautifully written obit, clearly done with love and care. The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. To his family and friends, it’s ok to not be ok. Luke, your music will continue on and inspire countless others to follow thier dreams. Be at peace, soar with light and love.
August 30, 2022 @ 10:34 pm
So sad over this! Our power was out for 24 hours and just got internet back a few hours ago and was looking up something for my sister and saw on Yahoo Luke Bell Dead. Unreal. He had so much talent and heart. We had a couple exchanges through his old original Facebook page and he was super sweet and friendly. The music speaks for itself. Three (well…two and a half) amazing albums. He lived fast and shined bright. RIP Lucas. ❤
August 30, 2022 @ 10:46 pm
I found Luke and his music through this site years ago. I struggle with and have battled bipolar knowingly since 2014. In 2017 after a particularly brutal bout of mania, “Where Ya Been?” was my recovery anthem. It was a way to find myself in all the lives I’ve lived and feel encouraged to reach for that reflection and welcome its change and its evolving whims with a smile. His self-titled has long been such a favourite and in his loss I find myself lost in his work again. I drove around Toronto windows down in a stupid muscle car blaring the record as a de facto wake and am now up late post-barstool fever watching every bit of him left on this e-wasteland. Beautiful words Trigger for a truly beautiful artist. Thrive in paradise great pretender.
August 30, 2022 @ 11:46 pm
I fell in love with his voice and music thanks to SCM. Thanks Trigger for that and this great bio. “I am the greatest bullfighter that ever dared the pen…”
Cue accordion and tears.
August 31, 2022 @ 2:25 am
August 31, 2022 @ 4:57 am
In this life we walk the thin line that is the veil to the reality we create for ourselves..Some find heaven.. Some find hell.. But most of us just walk that thin line of the unknown our whole lives..
It’s those that take the leap of faith that leave the rest of us looking for answers to questions we are to fearful to ask ourselves…
I know that his time on earth & his Q&A sessions w/self have taken him to a higher realm of what this life is/was truly about…To know love..To give love even when darkness is what consumes our soul.. In the end you have to learn to love yourself in all is glory and/or dishevelement…LOVING oneself unconditionally is what we must learn.. I hope you find what you were unable to grasp here on Earth…Walk in Beauty
August 31, 2022 @ 5:53 am
Perhaps the worst grammar in an article ever.
Terrible writing skills.
August 31, 2022 @ 8:15 am
Being a bona-fide grammar Nazi who scored in the 99th percentile in the English language on my ACT tests, I feel compelled to point out that both of your “sentences” are actually fragments as presented in this context. Either would be acceptable as an answer to a question where the subject has already been established, but unfortunately for you nobody asked and now you look like a fool.
And the grammar in the article is fine. Not perfect, but better than most.
August 31, 2022 @ 3:50 pm
Trolling an obituary! Good gravy! I’d rather have terrible writing skills than be a terrible person.
August 31, 2022 @ 6:25 am
May you find the peace you search for, I know how it feels. Fly Free
August 31, 2022 @ 10:23 am
An impressive young man. It’s a tragedy that he died at such a young age. At least I got to hear once and very happy I did.
August 31, 2022 @ 11:12 am
That was his gift, and his burden. As troubled as he was talented,…,what a sentence!❤️
August 31, 2022 @ 1:45 pm
I hate to see this. He was one of the good ones and so easy to root for. The amount of national media coverage his death is receiving is astounding to me for an artist whose body of published work is very limited. How sad that he did not receive such widespread attention during his life. CNN published an article on his passing.
August 31, 2022 @ 2:02 pm
Working on a story about this as we speak. In 15 years of covering country music, I’ve never seen anything like this for an independent artist, including one who’s passed young or under unusual circumstances, or even for some mainstream artists. I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s big.
August 31, 2022 @ 2:19 pm
Slow news day maybe? It’s very weird. He deserves all the exposure in the world but a tragic twist of fate that it’s happening as a result of his untimely death.
August 31, 2022 @ 3:38 pm
Thought the same thing when internet outlets that never mention country music covered this story and a number of them have reposted your coverage. Another thoughtful, gracious tribute, Mr. Coroneos.
August 31, 2022 @ 3:47 pm
I was thinking that was odd too; but didn’t know if these news sites were just tailoring articles to me or what. But I see articles about his passing in most of my news feeds. Nearly all of them reference SCM too! Sucks that the exposure for both of you is due to Luke’s death though.
August 31, 2022 @ 3:11 pm
Having just lost my 90-year-old father a day ago, I am doubly grieved to hear that Luke Bell is no longer with us.
His album (the one which followed “Don’t mind…”) is a major favorite of mine. Fantastic country music with brilliant musicianship and great song writing.
It became clear that he was dealing with some personal issues which almost curtailed his recorded output completely – which is sad because I have been poised to get hold of anything he would have release next.
Tragic that he should pass away at such a young age. Devastated!
August 31, 2022 @ 3:27 pm
TexaslilyI just hoping he wasn’t recently jabbed?? Serious business here , something we somes times think of today !??
August 31, 2022 @ 3:43 pm
This has nothing to do with the COVID-19 vaccine.
August 31, 2022 @ 4:17 pm
We’ll miss you Luke. You are gone too soon, but your struggle is over my friend. Now you can sing to the angels.
This was a beautiful tribute.
Our prayers are with your family, friends and coworkers.
August 31, 2022 @ 5:04 pm
Dang it all Luke, ya left too damn soon. RIP buddy.
August 31, 2022 @ 5:26 pm
Damn it, goddamn it. Luke was one of the best and an incredible soul like few other. It’s so damn tough to listen to Where Ya Been? and Hold Me in the context of his passing and hear entirely different songs. This hurts bad. Prayers to his soul, his family, his friends, and those whose paths crossed his across this land.
August 31, 2022 @ 5:28 pm
I am sorry to say l was unaware of Luke Bell until today, having heard of his tragic passing. I immediately checked out some his music videos and loved them. How l wish l could have climbed on his fan bus years ago. What a talented young man! As is so often the case, genius is rooted in pain. Rest in peace, Luke. My deepest sympathy to all who know and love him.
Steve Earle is a Guitar God
August 31, 2022 @ 5:29 pm
Great tribute to Luke …. A+
Thoughts to his family & friends
August 31, 2022 @ 6:20 pm
So sorry to hear jso wonderful if a voice to young to leave us God bless and help his family through this
August 31, 2022 @ 8:09 pm
So sorry to hear this….I just heard the first song I ever heard….him sing….He was great…God bless him……. Wish I had heard more from him…..liked his voice and sound…..would have turned as good as all country singers…… Thanks for info…. Wish I had heard about him sooner…Bless his soul…
September 1, 2022 @ 4:09 am
Seriously,it’s complicated.i loved his art.RIP
September 1, 2022 @ 6:13 pm
Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Not the bible or the ficti Christian Jesus
September 1, 2022 @ 5:53 am
Sleep in Peace🙏♥️
Kathryn E Hill
September 1, 2022 @ 12:35 pm
As a long time sufferer of mental illness. This saddens me so much. I have a hard time looking for things to live for. People don’t realize what you suffer in silence. It can’t always be shared or seen. You just have to accept things that happen and know you could not have changed anything.
September 1, 2022 @ 11:31 pm
RIP Luke. I will cherish my copy of Don’t Mind if I Do forever.
September 2, 2022 @ 2:13 pm
So saddened about this news. I had the honor of meeting Luke while shooting him for a documentary I directed. Though we tried to include more of Luke and his buddy Matt Kinman in the film, the subject matter didn’t lend itself to having them in for but a few minutes. Truth be told, both Matt and Luke were worthy of their very own doc as both stars shined bright. I will always cherish that day and be thankful that Matt and Martha Spencer brought along their “buddy” Luke to the shoot. May Luke’s star shine brightly and may he Rest In Peace.
September 8, 2022 @ 3:37 am
September 19, 2022 @ 5:41 pm
Autopsy says fentanyl intoxication was cause of death. Drug paraphernalia was found next to his body. RIP Luke, be free. You were one of the greats. ❤
September 22, 2022 @ 11:20 am
Nicely written article. I had just recently found Luke’s music. The first time I heard “Where ya Been”, I was mesmerized. What a perspective and message portrayed in that song. We all stumble through this existence without a playbook or plan. Even our best laid plans rarely come true. I wish I would have found his music sooner, Luke’s music has left a big impression on me. Good music is still out there, you just need to know where to look. I’ll continue to honor his legacy every time I throw one of his songs on. Prayers for his family and friends.
September 28, 2022 @ 6:13 am
I waited awhile to read about Luke Bell’s passing after my wife shared the news with me. I needed to metabolize the news before diving into the details.
We’ve been stunned by his music and have felt as others have commented, that he brought a long-missing flavor and authenticity to the craft of country music.
This morning I decided to read about his death, and started with your article, trusting that you would offer a better remembrance than most can.
Trigger, thanks for your sincere and grateful remembrance of this exceptional young man.
He was a hell of an artist. We are grieving his passing and will continue to celebrate his life and his unique genius by listening to the music that he left us with.
Goodbye, Luke. And Thank You.
October 3, 2022 @ 5:23 pm
Now every time I drive by the Ross Dress For Less on E Grant Road I think of Luke sitting in those bushes smoking drugs until he died… it’s a sad vision.