More than a week after he was reported missing in Arizona, country singer Luke Bell was found dead in Tucson on Monday (August 29). The Arizona Daily Star reported that Bell, 32, was found dead near the area where he was reported missing, with a cause of death not available at press time. USA Today reported that the Tucson Police Department confirmed Bell’s death, saying in a statement, “the investigation is ongoing at the moment,” with no further details disclosed at press time.
Born in Lexington, Kentucky and raised in Cody, Wyoming, Bell released his debut full-length album on Bandcamp, Don’t Mind If I Do, in 2014 and later signed to the Thirty Tigers label, home to Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Greensky Bluegrass, Amanda Shires and Lucinda Williams. Best known for his traditionalist honky tonk country tunes “Where Ya Been?” and “The Bullfighter” from his 2016 self-titled Thirty Tigers debut, Bell’s most recent release was a twangy 2021 cover of John Lennon’s 1971 ballad “Jealous Guy.”
Close friend and fellow country singer Matt Kinman, who said he was with Bell recently and had been taking care of the singer for 6 years, reportedly told Saving Country Music — which first reported the news — that Bell went missing on August 20 in Tucson.
Speaking to Billboard on Wednesday morning (August 31), Thirty Tigers label president David Macias confirmed reports that Bell had struggled with mental health issues and that he moved back to his native Wyoming in 2018 to live with family. “He was a very sweet and lovely guy and a real poet. If you listen to a song like ‘Where Ya Been?’ — in light of what we came to learn about what he struggled with — it takes on a much deeper poignancy,” he says.
In a 2016 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Bell said he was inspired by singer/songwriters such as John Prine before he moved to Austin, Texas for a few years and getting into the Tejano supergroup the Texas Tornados. “Then I went to New Orleans. I was only there for about six months. I was living in a molding trailer that smelled of bleach in the Lower Ninth Ward. It was tough,” he said.
The Tucson Police Department had not returned requests for additional comment at press time. Margo Price was among those who paid tribute to Bell, writing “goddamn, rest east to our dear friend, Luke Bell.”
Listen to “Where Ya Been?” and “Jealous Guy” below.
goddamn, rest east to our dear friend, Luke Bell 💔 https://t.co/oeUMmRpipg
— Margo Price (@MissMargoPrice) August 30, 2022