The Injuries Michael Jackson Once Suffered From A Pepsi Commercial

Michael Jackson's 1984 Pepsi commercial may evoke fond nostalgia in his fans, but it was a fiery disaster behind the scenes. The "Beat It" singer signed a lucrative $5 million contract with the beverage manufacturer to star in a multi-commercial campaign in 1983. That same year, Jackson went to work to shoot the first glitzy ad (since uploaded to YouTube), which featured him appearing alongside The Jackson Five, as he belted out Pepsi-favorable lyrics on top of the instrumental to his hit song "Billie Jean." Like most of Jackson's early career feats, the commercial went on to become a huge success. However, Jackson suffered tragically after shooting a second commercial for Pepsi under the same contract.

In 1984, Jackson shot the second commercial spot for Pepsi, during which time he and his brothers simulated performances of their classic hits. As the star of the family, Jackson also had a solo shot where he descended a stage mockup, similar to a concert venue. The set used real pyrotechnics, which ignited and set Jackson's hair on fire. As seen in a video obtained by Us Weekly, it took Jackson several seconds to notice that his hair was on fire. After he frantically descended the stairs, crew members surrounded him to put out the fire. At the end of the video, Jackson was shepherded away by a cloud of people, including his famous brothers. Unfortunately, the star was critically injured during the incident with severe burns, the aftereffects of which permeated the remainder of Jackson's life.

Michael Jackson was seriously burned

Following the accident, Michael Jackson sought treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where doctors discovered that he'd suffered from serious burns. The hospital's spokesperson Larry Baum revealed to The New York Times in 1984 that Jackson suffered from "second-degree burns on his skull," and received further treatment at the Brotman Memorial Hospital's burns unit. Jackson's then-spokesperson John Branca said at the time, "Something went wrong and it exploded and Michael's hair caught on fire." According to spectators, pyrotechnics in the shoot ignited Jackson's hair after he ventured too close to the open flame. One extra named Angela Bennett pointed to the pomade in Jackson's hair as one culprit of the accident (via New York Daily News).

Bennett's line of thinking is one shared by many fans and casual observers who assume that most hair products are flammable, and therefore, easily catch fire. However, former L.A. City Fire Department Captain Donald Donester, who was present during the terrifying Pepsi shoot, revealed to Access Hollywood that Jackson's hair products may not have actually been responsible for the quick spread of the fire. In fact, whatever was in his hair possibly impeded the fire's ability to spread. "Hair product may not exacerbate it sometimes," Donester explained in 2009. "It might have retarded the effect. What was burning on Michael was almost like a candle effect where fumes were burning and not the hair. So that may have retarded the hair from being burned as quickly."

Michael Jackson lost most of his hair in the accident

Michael Jackson suffered from hair loss after the fire. Multiple sources have confirmed that the pop star's 2009 autopsy revealed that he was almost bald, although he wore wigs during public outings. "The thing that was odd that I found myself periodically looking at was his head, his scalp. Because whenever he was out in public he was wearing a wig," said LAPD Detective Scott Smith in the "Killing Michael Jackson" documentary, per Yahoo! Lifestyle. "Looking at his scalp, the top of his head had been severely scarred. Hardly any hair at all on the sides."

Jackson took painkillers to help him cope with his injury, which may have kicked off a habit. He admitted to using painkillers to deal with other injuries during a 2005 civil suit brought by former manager Dieter Wiesner. During the trial, a lawyer asked Jackson about whether he was using substances during business dealings with Wiesner. "It could have easily been pain medication because I had some serious injuries on tour," said Jackson (via Digital Spy). Jackson also agreed that he was using painkillers when he gave Wiesner the power of attorney over his affairs. "Could have been — probably. Probably, yes ... I had a serious fall. I'm not sure it was a tour. It was a show we did, a benefit. And I had an accident also at home." Following his 2009 death, a large quantity of painkillers and other prescription medications were found in his home, alluding to an addiction that may have began on that horrific 1984 day.