Country artist Luke Bell’s life ended on August 26th, 2022 at the age of 32 in what remains one of the most tragic events in country music in recent memory. Bell died on the streets of Tucson, AZ after going missing a few days before. Considered at one point to be one of the most promising voices in country music and one of the most authentic performers to ever ply the craft, Luke Bell’s legacy may have been truncated, but it left a crater of an impact.
After the death of Luke, it didn’t feel like it was the end of his story. It felt like it was just the beginning, especially after the news of his death garnered surprising international interest, finally giving Luke Bell the attention he’d always deserved.
Now some inspired filmmakers have set out to tell the story of Luke Bell. Directors Kevin Romeo and Matt Bakken of Rhino Media have taken the idea that someone should preserve Luke Bell’s legacy in full and run with it. They’re doing it with the blessing and participation of Luke’s mother Carol, sister Jane, as well as Luke’s grandparents, uncle, and others.
Called Where Ya Been? The Odyssey and Elegy of Luke Bell, Kevin Romeo and Matt Bakken have already been to Luke Bell’s hometown of Cody, Wyoming, the nearby ranching community of Shell, as well as Tucson, Nashville, Austin, and other locations searching for Luke Bell. The filmmakers have spoken to musicians like Matt Kinman and Pat Reedy who played big roles as mentors to Luke, and spoken to yours truly (Trigger of Saving Country Music) on multiple occasions too.
The idea behind the documentary is not to just make a dry recitation of events, but to shepherd Luke Bell’s story into the future, while exploring the deeper themes found in his life and his death, including addiction and mental health from which Luke suffered from and eventually succumbed to.
Director Kevin Romeo says, “We aim to bring together the multifaceted experiences of those who were part of Luke’s life. This film will be a celebration of country music and folklore while offering a poignant reflection on the challenges of mental illness.”
Much has been done already, but to make sure this film gets all the support and lift it deserves, a Kickstarter campaign has been launched “to aid in covering production costs, music licensing fees, media expenses, and other crucial elements essential to ensure the documentary’s integrity and reach.”
The making of the film also coincides with an ongoing effort to make sure all of Luke Bell’s music can be heard by the public, including songs he released before his landmark self-titled album in 2016, and well as songs recorded subsequently that the public has yet to hear.
Much has been going on during the 2nd half of 2023 to make sure Luke Bell is remembered. On October 21st, friends and family of Luke Bell dedicated the Luke Bell Memorial Chapel at the Circle P Ranch in Mt. Juilet, Tennessee near Nashville. This was the same location where a public memorial was held for Luke Bell on November 12th, 2022.
Luke Bell mentor Matt Kinman and Rose Cashio also started a Go Fund Me campaign earlier this year to help create the Luke Bell Foundation, which is being founded in order to provide resources to help artists and musicians address mental health and drug addiction issues, including group counseling and therapy, support groups, and addiction treatment.
More information on the Luke Bell film and new music from Luke when it becomes available.