Public Memorial and Celebration for Luke Bell Planned

photo: Laura E. Partain

This story has been updated.

The story of country artist Luke Bell’s unfortunate passing in late August at the age of 32 gripped the nation and world with a tale that is all too common these days. It was one of a brilliant and promising individual getting lost in the grips of mental illness, and slipping through the cracks of society. Though Luke Bell’s life and music were mostly resigned to obscurity when he was around aside from within a strong contingent of grassroots fans and fellow musicians who loved him, his passing finally brought Luke Bell the attention his musical contributions deserved.

Luke Bell was officially laid to rest in a private ceremony at the Christ Episcopal Church in Cody, Wyoming on September 9th. But now a public memorial is planned for Luke that will be taking place on Friday, November 12th at the Circle P Ranch in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville. Organized by close friend, caretaker, and fellow musician Matt Kinman and business manager Brian Buchanan, the public is encouraged to attend, as well as fellow musicians.

The event is from 12 pm to 6 pm, with a memorial in the chapel from 12:30 to 2:00, and folks paying tribute to Luke Bell by telling stories, singing songs, and remembering the singer and songwriter afterwards. Musicians wanting to participate are encouraged to show up, and can contact Matt Kinman at mattkinman71 at gmail dot com for more details. Folks can also feel free reach out via Saving Country Music’s Contact Page if more contact info is needed.

A Facebook Event has also been made for the memorial.

Originally from Cody, Wyoming, Luke Bell released a debut album on Bandcamp in 2014, then re-released it in 2016 after he signed to Thirty Tigers and booking agency WME. Bell opened shows for names like Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr., and Dwight Yoakam, and was recognized as one of the most authentic voices in country music at the time. But a tour set to occur after the release of his debut album never happened, and aside from some spotty shows here and there, Luke Bell melted into obscurity as he continued to deal with mental health issues.

“Unfortunately Luke suffered from the disease of mental illness, which progressed after his father’s death in 2015,” his family said in a statement after his death. “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 who suffer.”

After Luke’s death, the story of his music, his life, and his passing achieved escape velocity. It was reported in thousands of news outlets, and even made it onto ABC’s World News Tonight—something that felt unprecedented for an artist that never achieved a charting single or album, or performed on a national broadcast previously.

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