On this day in 1984, Michael Jackson received scalp surgery three months after his hair had caught fire during a Pepsi Cola commercial.
It was the accident that shocked the world: here was the world’s biggest superstar, fresh off the success of the Thriller album, being rushed to hospital with severe injuries.
Here’s what happened:
Jackson and other members of his family were hard at work, filming a pseudo-performance at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium in front of 3,000 fans for the TV spot. They were paid $5 million for their involvement, an unprecedented celebrity endorsement at the time.
A pyrotechnic explosion went off a bit early and accidentally set Michael’s hair on fire while he was performing a dance routine. It took him a second to even realize something was wrong: the filming of the sixth take continued, and Jackson danced onward for ten more seconds, until he realized what had happened. He spun around, tried to take off his jacket, and a crew of people rushed towards him.
The damage had already been done: the singer suffered from second- and third-degree burns to his scalp.
“I don’t have fond memories of that shoot,” commercial director Bob Giraldi told Yahoo Music. “It’s not a moment that I like to remember. I’ve put it out of my repertoire when I think of working and being around Michael in his genius.”
Pepsi made a $1.5 million settlement with Jackson, in which he donated to a California medical centre.
Later reports claim that the accident resulted in Jackson’s addiction to medication to help ease the pain. His death in June 2009 was ruled asacute propofol intoxication with benzodiazepine effect.
It was also revealed that at the time of his death, he wore a wig. Even with the scalp surgeries, the hair that was burned in the accident was never able to grow back properly.
Do you remember your reaction to the accident when you heard the news? Let us know in the comments below.
Shop Michael Jackson & his collaborators and other ’80s icons in the MusicVaultz store: