The rule of three can be traced back to Feb. 3, 1959, when Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper all died in a plane crash in an Iowa cornfield. The theory gained a place in creepy celebrity lore at the end of 1970 and the beginning of 1971, when iconic rockers Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison died in relatively close succession. That one really rattled people, as all three died at age 27.

Since then, the so-called rule of three has provided a tidy way for folks to try to make sense of celebrity deaths.

So, is the universe trying to tell us something when three people a lot of people happen to be familiar with pass away in close proximity to one another? Or, as human beings, do we try to rationalize the horror of death by imposing some kind of order on random tragedy?