Up-and-coming country star Luke Bell was found dead on Monday at the age of 32.
Bell was reported missing in Tuscon, Arizona, on Aug. 20, the New York Post reported. Nine days later, his body was found near where he went missing, the Tuscon Police Department said.
Authorities said the cause of death was still unknown. Bell’s friend and fellow country music singer Matt Kinman said Bell had been struggling with bipolar disorder.
Kinman told the music blog Saving Country Music that he and Bell had recently spent time in Cody, Wyoming. Afterward, he said they went to Arizona to work and “he just took off.”
“He was in the back of the truck,” Kinman said. “I went in to get something to eat. I came out, and he’d got out of the truck and left.”
Before Bell’s death was confirmed, Kinman said Bell still had a desire to make music.
“When he’s right, he’s one of the best people you’ll ever know,” Kinman said. “When he’s sick, well, this is what you get.”
Bell was born in Lexington, Kentucky, but he spent most of his childhood in Cody, the Post reported. He briefly attended the University of Wyoming before dropping out to focus on his music career.
He spent years playing in small bars and honky-tonks before getting signed by record label Thirty Tigers in 2016. He released a self-titled album that year that included the hit song “Where Ya Been?“
Despite the popularity of his first full album, Bell would not release any new music for the next five years.
Saving Country Music reported that he went missing for extended periods of time, but friends including Kinman said he had been doing better over the last year and a half.
Bell released a single in 2021 entitled “Jealous Guy.” It would prove to be his last piece of new music before his death.
Many fans and fellow artists shared their sadness and condolences following Bell’s death.
“Word just came down on the passing of Luke Bell and we’re heartbroken over the news,” country group Mike and the Moonpies wrote on Facebook. “I can vividly remember the first time I met Luke at Hole in the Wall over a decade ago, down to the clothes on his back.
“The man (and his music) left an impression. He was a real deal traveling troubadour out there on that lost highway. Do yourself a favor and put on some Luke Bell tunes tonight in his memory. Rest In Peace, friend.”
“So sad to hear about [Luke Bell],” one fan wrote on Twitter. “Dude was an absolute word-bending, time-transcending, heart-piercing, guitar-picking genius. … I am thankful to have lived in his poverty. Godspeed.”
So sad to hear about #LukeBell.
Dude was an absolute word-bending, time-transcending, heart-piercing, guitar-picking genius.
The poor man’s Yoakam, the begging man’s Jones – I am thankful to have lived in his poverty.
— CharlesLee (@LeeCharles_) August 30, 2022
Fans hope Bell’s music and legacy will live on even after his all-too-early passing.
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