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‘I never saw anything like it’ when Michael Jackson’s scalp caught fire on stage | Celebrity News | Showbiz & TV

It was 39 years ago today when a 25-year-old Michael Jackson was filming a Pepsi advert, as part of what would turn out to be a long-standing partnership with the soda company.

During the shoot, the King of Pop was singing Billie Jean for a live audience when a planned firework display erupted from the back of the stage causing falling embers, which engulfed the star’s head in flames.

The singer’s make-up artist Karen Faye, who ended up working with the music icon for 27 years, testified in a later court case “I never saw anything like that in my life. This was someone I knew and he was on fire. All his hair was gone and there was smoke coming out of his head.”

Despite the horror of what was happening, Jackson continued dancing, later saying that he couldn’t “disappoint the audience” despite being on fire. That was until he was wrestled to the ground and put out.

There were 3000 fans bearing witness to the shocking event, with one fan stating that the singer was: “Wonderful. He reassured people even as he was being taken away on a stretcher.”

In the end, Jackson had to ‘Beat It’ to hospital as the accident turned out to be very nasty indeed; causing him second and third-degree burns. He even visited a plastic surgeon (something the star ended up being no stranger to) to determine whether or not he needed surgery on his head. 

At the time, Jackson explained that he had “some major reconstructive surgery on my scalp” after the stage accident. He said: “I became increasingly more dependent on painkillers to get me through the days of my tour.”

Some fans believe the event to be a hoax on account of the singer wanting a hair transplant anyway, pointing out that it was hair “singes” rather than burns. However, the star likely had product in his locks at the time, which caused his hair to be flammable.

Pepsi ended up offering Jackson a whopping $1.5 million in compensation over the event to smooth things over, which the star donated to the Brotman Medical Centre where he was treated.

It was reported the Man in the Mirror singer was earning an apparent £7m for the Pepsi Cola adverts, which he starred in alongside his four famous brothers from the band Jackson Five.

The sponsorship deal remained intact until the singer later revealed he was addicted to drugs and cancelled his Dangerous tour in 1992. This resulted in the termination of his nine-year contract with Pepsi – the largest in history at the time.

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