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.