February 3, 1959 — Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper die in a plane crash

The facts, as generally agreed upon, are these:

At approximately 1AM on February 3, 1959, Holly, Valens and Richardson (‘the Big Bopper’) boarded a plane in Clear Lake, Iowa, intending to fly to their next concert, in Moorhead, Minnesota. The three, flown by pilot Roger Peterson, were killed a short time later when their plane crashed.

The major cause of the crash appears to have been a combination of poor weather conditions and pilot error. Peterson was not qualified for nighttime flights, and it also appears that he may have been given incorrect information regarding the weather conditions on that fateful night.

July 29, 1890 — Vincent Van Gogh commits suicide

While the aphorism that genius is never recognised in its own time predates Van Gogh by centuries, there are few creative geniuses who exemplify it as much as he does. Vincent Van Gogh was a Dutch painter with a style labelled as post-Impressionist. This is misleading: while Van Gogh’s art shows clear influences of the Impressionists, his style was utterly unique, and in various works anticipated both Cubism and Surrealism.

Van Gogh suffered from mental health problems, notably severe anxiety. The widespread rejection of his art, which was derided as childish for its rough style and bold colours, did nothing to relieve his issues. Although no gun was ever found, it is widely accepted that Van Gogh took his own life at the age of 37, finally losing the war with his personal demons.

Van Gogh’s fame took off after his death, bringing him too late the recognition he had so long desired. Alongside only Pablo Picasso, his works are the most expensive in the world, and his influence on the Expressionist school of painting is incalculable: it literally would not exist without his pioneering works.

Vincent van Gogh - Self-Portrait - Google Art Project (454045)

As mentioned in:

Vincent — Don McLean