Brenda Chase, Getty Images LOS ANGELES (AP) - Michael Jackson's mother sat in…
- Posted on Jan 21st 2011 4:30PM by James Sullivan
Jackson, wrote Time magazine, had become "a one-man rescue team for the music business." But the superstar needed a rescue team of his own on Jan. 27 of the new year.
On that day, Jackson and his brothers were filming a simulated concert appearance in front of 3,000 fans at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The occasion was a commercial shoot for Pepsi, a major sponsor of the Victory Tour.
On the sixth take, a planned pyrotechnic explosion went off a little too early. For a moment, the audience watched as a spark set the singer's Jheri curls aflame. Since Jackson wasn't immediately aware that his hair was on fire, many believed it was part of the act. But Jackson's brothers and dozens of stagehands quickly rushed to his side and helped put out the fire. As the dazed singer was being led offstage, a bald patch was clearly visible on top of his head.
"He was wonderful," said one fan. "He reassured people even as he was being taken away on a stretcher."
Jackson underwent plastic surgery to hide the scars on his scalp from the accident. He donated the $1.5 million he received in a settlement with Pepsi to the Brotman Medical Center in Southern California, which eventually opened a Michael Jackson Burn Center.
But the incident, which became an easy source of humor for late-night TV monologues, had other long-lasting ramifications. Many fans believe that it marked the start of Jackson's ill-fated addiction to painkillers.
The advertising executive behind the infamous Pepsi commercial was industry legend Phil Dusenberry, who was responsible for the soda company's slogan "The Choice of a New Generation." Before he died in 2007, Dusenberry wrote a book about his career in the business. His title: 'Then We Set His Hair on Fire.'