Looking back at Michael Jackson’s incredible musical legacy, January 27th, 1984 stands out as one of the darkest days in the King of Pop’s life. In an incident that’s often been discussed but never witnessed, Jackson suffered second and third degree burns to his face and scalp while shooting a Pepsi advertisement in front of thousands of fans at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium. For the first time ever, Us Weekly exclusively reveals video from the accident, which occurred when the pyrotechnics were set off too early on the shoot’s sixth take.
As the video shows, the premature pyrotechnics exploded on a nearby Jackson when his back was turned to the camera, with sparks igniting the singer’s hair. Jackson, unaware that he’s on fire, continues to perform until he is rushed by dozens of stagehands who quickly help douse the flames. After the fire extinguishers are emptied and the chaos has died down, Jackson emerges with obvious burns on his scalp, with patches of barren flesh where there was hair seconds before. Jackson was rushed to the hospital, but not before reassuring the audience of 3,000 that he was okay.
A tragic postscript to the incident, according to reports, is that Jackson’s recovery from the burns was what led to the singer’s eventual use of painkillers and prescription medications, an addiction that — pending the results of the toxicology report — might have caused Jackson to suffer the sudden cardiac arrest that ended his life on June 25th. Jackson’s nurse/nutritionist said the singer was “adamant” about receiving the powerful intravenous sedative Propofol, while Jackson’s former security guards told law officials that Jackson consumed as many as 30 to 40 Xanax pills a day in 2004. Even Jackson’s family was concerned about the singer’s drug use, with sister Janet reportedly attempting — and failing — to stage an intervention.
Following the 1984 incident, Jackson and Pepsi settled out of court. Always the humanitarian, Jackson donated his $1.5 million settlement to the Brotman Memorial Hospital in Culver City, California, establishing the Michael Jackson Burn Center for Children.
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