Country musician Luke Bell, who was known for songs including “Where Ya Been?” and “The Bullfighter,” has died after going missing in Tucson, Ariz., The Times has confirmed. He was 32.
Matt Kinman, a fellow artist and friend, also confirmed Bell’s death to the country music blog Saving Country Music, which first reported the news. Bell’s body was found on Monday near where he disappeared, nine days after he was reported missing on Aug. 20.
Neither Tucson police nor representatives for Bell immediately responded to The Times’ request for comment.
When reached by The Times on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Pima County Medical Examiner and Coroner declined to share additional details about Bell’s death.
According to Saving Country Music, Kinman and Bell — who reportedly had bipolar disease — recently collaborated for shows and livestreams. While in Tucson, Bell ran off when Kinman went to find something to eat.
“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,” he told the outlet. “I went in to get something to eat. I came out, and he’d got out of the truck and left.”
Bell, a native of Cody, Wyo., was born on Jan. 27, 1990. He started his music career in Austin, Texas, with numerous gigs in the Lone Star State’s capital. He traveled to New Orleans and Nashville for his music.
In 2016, he released a self-titled, 10-song album and performed at the Stagecoach country music festival in Indio, Calif., that same year. He previously spoke to The Times about his start and his approach to music.
“I was listening to people like John Prine,” he said, “then I moved to Austin for a couple of years and got into the Texas Tornadoes and that scene. 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.”
While “kind of reclusive,” Bell said he was “just trying to get my songs better and better.” He released his final song, an acoustic cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” in 2021.
Following his death, Bell’s fellow country musicians paid tribute on social media.
“The man (and his music) left an impression. He was a real deal traveling troubadour out there on that lost highway,” the band Mike and the Moonpies posted on Facebook Monday. “Do yourself a favor and put on some Luke Bell tunes tonight in his memory. Rest In Peace, friend.”
Country musician Jamie Wyatt remembered Bell’s voice as “pure gold.”
“I wasn’t as close with him as lots of people who are hurting right now, but we loved each other’s music and would visit whenever we saw each other and meet up in nashville,” she wrote on Tuesday. “he used to call occasionally and we’d talk about life. I’ll never forget those conversations. My heart goes out to his family.”