Luke Bell (1990–2022) was an American country musician and singer-songwriter who is known for the crowd-puller songs Where Ya Been? (2017), The Bullfighter, and Jealous Guy (2021). On August 29, 2022, Luke Bell was found dead in Tucson, Arizona, after he disappeared on August 20, 2022.
Luke Bell was born on January 27, 1990 (age 32 years; as of 2022), in Lexington, Kentucky, the U.S. He moved to Wyoming with his family when he was 2 years old. He attended Cody High School, from where he graduated in 2008. A native of Cody, Wyoming, the Bell attended college in Laramie for a few years before he caught the music bug caught. He started his musical journey playing at a local bar during his college years, where he met the singer-songwriter Pat Reedy. In an interview, he talked about the onset of his musical journey and said,
I went for a couple of years, and just sort of skirted my way through some classes, and a lot of parties…I had just started playing music. There’s a bar called the Buckhorn in Laramie, and there was a really great community of people there, and I built a little band. That was the first kind of band thing I had, and I did that for a while. I was having fun but I don’t know, I just sort of dropped out and left.”
Music led him to spend some time in Tennessee, Texas, and Louisiana. He moved to Austin in 2011 and formed a rock and roll band called ‘Fast Luke and the Lead Heavy,’ which occasionally performed at the Hole in the Wall bar near the University of Texas campus. At Hole in the Wall, a man named Dennis O’Donnell, who worked as a bartender allowed Luke to perform on stage every now and then. In an interview, Luke talked about Dennis O’Donnell and said,
When I first moved down there it was $1.50 High Life’s on Monday night at Hole in the Wall, and Mike and the Moonpies, Leo Rondeau, and Ramsey Midwood had a residency, and I was staying on a couch by campus and could walk down there every day. I wandered down there every day for about six days and pestered the bartender Dennis O’Donnell until he was like, ‘Okay kid, come in and play 3 songs at 3 o’clock when I’m setting up chairs.”
The band played a residency there from 3 to 5 every day, but eventually, it was hounded for playing too loud and was eventually fired. Later, Dennis O’Donnell went on to open the White Horse bar on the east side of Austin. Thereafter, Luke Bell landed a regular performance slot on the stage at White Horse. He lived in Austin for two years and recorded his self-titled debut album, and then he spent a brief stint in New Orleans busking on the streets before returning to Wyoming in his 1995 Buick LeSabre with his stray pit bull.
Subsequently, he went on tour to Oregon with Pat Reedy. Later, he went to Nashville, he began performing regularly at the infamous Santa’s Pub. In Nashville, Tennessee, he recorded his 2014 album “Don’t Mind If I Do” and caught the attention of talent agency WME.
Height (approx.): 5′ 9″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Blue
Not much information is available about his family.
In 2012, he released his eponymous studio album. In 2014, found his way to Nashville where he released his second studio album ‘Don’t Mind If I Do,’ released on Bandcamp.
Thereafter, Nashville talent agency WME signed him, and soon he was on musical tours opening shows for American country musicians Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Jr., and Dwight Yoakam. In 2016, Bell signed a record deal with the Thirty Tigers agency and released a self-titled studio album, Luke Bell, featuring southern country, lighthearted bluegrass, and dramatic, soulful blues. The album took most of the best songs of Don’t Mind If I Do and combined them with a few new tracks. During his concerts, he often played with Cale Tyson, Johnny Appleseed, and Smithsonian Folkways recording artist Matt Kinman. In 2017, the Pickathon Music Festival, an annual three-day music festival located just outside of Portland, Oregon, booked Luke. At the festival, Luke and Kinman played side by side.
After winning Best Honky Tonk Male at Dale Watson’s Ameripolitan Awards in 2018, Luke Bell virtually disappeared from the public eye due to bipolar disorder. Singles under his belt include Where Ya Been? (2017) and Jealous Guy (2021). His songs ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Loretta’ were featured on the Ashton Kutcher-led series The Ranch on Netflix in 2016. In 2021, Luke Bell collaborated with Martha Spencer to perform a cover of the song “Dublin Blues” as a tribute to Guy Clark on the occasion of his 80th birthday, which is uploaded on Martha Spencer’s eponymous YouTube channel.
On August 29, 2022, Luke Bell was found dead in Tucson, Arizona. Bell allegedly went missing on August 20, 2022, in Tucson, where he was visiting for a concert. Since 2018, Luke had been suffering from bipolar disorder. Although Luke was beginning to recover, his mental state took a turn for the worse when he was in Tucson with Matt Kinman. Apparently, Luke ran off while Matt went to get something to eat after which he disappeared. Saving Country Music While Luke was still missing, Matt pointed out that a change in Luke’s medication could have played a role in his disappearance. Saving Country Music
- In 2015, the American monthly magazine Rolling Stone described Luke Bell as a singer who “plays classic honky-tonk with a wink and a yodel that summons the sleeping ghosts of the country better than any voodoo spell ever could.”
- In February of 2018, Luke won Best Honky Tonk Male at the Dale Watson-backed Ameripolitan Awards in Memphis, Tennessee.
- He was an occasional smoker.
- He had a tattoo inked on his right arm featuring mountains and a fence with a caption that read “don’t fence me in.”
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