Country music singer Luke Bell has died at the age of 32 after going missing, police in Tucson, Arizona, told CBS News on Tuesday. Through a publicist, his family and close friends said in a statement to CBS News on Friday that they are “heartbroken” over his death.
“Luke had a gentle heart, a wanderer’s spirit and a musical gift that he was fortunate to share with us and the world,” they said. “We are so grateful to his friends and fans for embracing Luke and his music.”
Authorities said Bell was found in Midtown Tucson last Friday and an investigation was ongoing. Bell was reported missing August 20 not far from where he was found, his close friend and country artist Matt Kinman told music blog SavingCountryMusic.com. According to the blog, Bell was dealing with a “severe battle” with bipolar disorder, and the publicist confirmed he had the mental illness.
Bell’s loved ones said it “progressed” after his father’s death in 2015. They said they supported him, but “he was unable to receive the help he needed to ease his pain.”
“As we navigate our heartbreak we respectfully ask for privacy to allow us room to grieve and honor his memory. Our only comfort comes in the fact that our Luke is finally free and at peace,” they said.
Born in Lexington, Kentucky, Bell released his debut self-titled album in 2012. He was known for songs “Where Ya Been?” and his most recent single “Jealous Guy,” which he unveiled last year. He has also opened for the likes of country music stars Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr. and Dwight Yoakam, according to Saving Country Music.
“This is a hard one. He was one of the most authentic and magnetizing artists to grace the country music art form in the modern era,” the blog’s editor, Kyle “Trigger” Coroneos, wrote on Twitter.
Fellow musicians Joshua Hedley, Margo Price and Erin Rae posted tributes to Bell on Twitter. Actor Jessica Chastain tweeted in the wake of his death that she wishes there were more conversations around mental illness.
“Please have a listen to #LukeBell today and honor this country soul who lost his battle,” she wrote. “I hope he’s finally found the peace he sought.”