Country singer-songwriter Luke Bell, whose throwback style blended strains of Texas, Nashville and Bakersfield, has died aged 32, according to his friend and collaborator Matt Kinman.
Bell, who battled severe bipolar disorder, had travelled Arizona with Kinman to work, but went missing on August 20 in Tucson, reports Deadline.
He was found dead about a week later, according to SavingCountryMusic.com: “not far from where he disappeared, and in a manner we all feared he would be when we first heard the news.” His cause of death is still pending an autopsy.
Kinman, who had played with Bell for the past six years, told the outlet: “We came down here to Arizona, to work down here, play some music, and he just took off. He was in the back of the truck. I went in to get something to eat. I came out, and he’d got out of the truck and left.”
After he went missing, Kinman speculated: “He could be in Tucson. But it’s possible he jumped a freight train,” which wasn’t unusual for Bell. “Semi-homeless and generally adrift,” according to SaveCountryMusic, Bell hitchhiked and couch surfed as he honed his chops during his formative musical years.
In 2015, Rolling Stone described his sound as “classic honky-tonk with a wink and a yodel.” That unique blend earned him opening spots with Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Jr. and Dwight Yoakam.
Bell released three albums: a self-published debut in 2012, ‘Don’t Mind If I Do’ in 2014 and an eponymous disc in 2016.