The Late Country Singer Luke Bell’s Inner Circle Remembered Describe Man’s Struggles And Triumphs With The “Biggest Heart In The World”


Luke Bell would occasionally go missing for weeks on end. His friends and inner circle would stay up for long, anxious days and nights looking for the country singer, who was prone to walking away while suffering from a mental health crisis. They often feared the worst, recalling how they discovered him shoeless and without a coat on Christmas Eve in Denver, describing a gentle soul who could turn on a dime when the “demons” took over.


Those fears were realised this week, when the 32-year-old promising country singer was discovered dead in Tucson, Arizona, after going missing 10 days before. “He was witty and very smart, as well as charming… “He carried on like a country bumpkin in recent years, but he knew more than he let on,” says his longtime manager and friend Brian Buchanan, his voice choked with emotion as he describes a generational talent who struggled with bipolar disorder for the majority of his brief career.

“He was more sophisticated than he appeared, and with a wink and a smile, he could disarm you.” He was simply nice, not malicious or mean… Unless he was possessed by his demons,” Buchanan adds. “Once upon a time, he was in a bad mood and refused to answer to ‘Luke.’ He’d be dead serious when he said, ‘I’m not Luke.’ He’d fight you over it.”


Speaking with members of Bell’s inner circle in the aftermath of his death, a common thread emerges: a kind-hearted, wildly talented songwriter and performer who was laid low by devastating mental health struggles that required constant vigilance and tender understanding from friends and family who knew his true heart — and fought like hell to get him the help he needed.

It was a dark cloud that hung over him, and by 2018, we had a lot of concerns, and he wasn’t in a state to go out on the road and do shows,” he says of the singer, who was already bending ears thanks to his 2014 Bandcamp-released debut full-length, Don’t Mind If I Do.


According to Buchanan, the singer’s family never gave up on him, recalling a loving, happy childhood. He says, “She never gave up on her boy.” “She adored [him], as did we all… [However], he would transform into a different person and forget his actions, sincerely didn’t, and apologise for things he didn’t do. She also attempted to enlist his assistance… At one point, they said he had alcohol psychosis and that if he stopped drinking, it would go away, which is difficult to tell a 27-year-old who enjoys beer.” (Like many musicians, Bell lacked insurance, and when Buchanan attempted to get him covered, the singer refused.)

According to Buchanan, Bell’s mental health began to deteriorate significantly after the singer’s father died in 2015. “Luke had all this success, a record deal, and all these people behind him,” he says, “but he didn’t have his dad, the one person you want to be there to see you succeed.”

By then, Bell had signed a deal with Thirty Tigers, a Nashville-based marketing/distribution/management company for independent artists that also represents Jason Isbell, Lucinda Williams, Alanis Morissette, and X’s John Doe. President and co-founder David Macias had sought him out after hearing rumblings about an upstart young singer whose sound harkened back to a bygone era in Nashville.

“He was just a good dude,” Macias says of the “Where Ya Been?” songwriter’s vibe, which blended traditional, old-school country with the laid-back Bakersfield, California sound and a dash of outlaw country. After meeting with Bell’s publisher the year after his debut, he signed Luke to Thirty Tigers in 2015 after falling in love with such moving originals as “The Bullfighter.”

His sole release on the label, a self-titled full-length in 2016, included five songs from the first album, as well as Hank Williams-inspired tracks like “Sometimes” and Johnny Cash-esque train-track country blues like “All Blue.”

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