PepsiCo has issued an official response to the video circulating that features Michael Jackson’s hair catching fire on that fateful day in 1984 when he was filming a Pepsi commercial
Pepsi spokeswoman Nicole Bradley sent the following statement: “We don’t know how the footage became available. Twenty-five years later, we’d question why anyone would want to share such frightening images. It was a terrifying event that we’ll never forget. We were grateful for Michael’s recovery and for the chance to continue working with him on a number of successful projects. As for Michael as an artist, his music helped us define a generation and, like everyone else, we’re deeply saddened by his passing.”
Bradley also said the company is not currently attempting to get the footage taken down and that Pepsi itself may well not own the rights to the material. “We don’t know where it came from,” she says. “We don’t know what that footage is. Its 25 years ago. We don’t know who owns it, so we have no recourse as far as I know. I can only tell you what I know. We didn’t put it up and we don’t know where it came from.”
Many who watched the video felt it was really disturbing and you wish you hadn’t seen it. I have not watched the video, although I did see photo stills and they are horrible. The distressing images show the moment a pyrotechnic stunt caused Jackson’s hair to set on fire, and the singer continue dancing with his hair on fire as he failed to realize that anything was wrong. As a result Jackson’s scalp was left severely burnt and he was prescribed painkillers to treat his agonizing injuries which lead to an addiction it is alleged he never managed to kick.
The footage, which surfaced on US Weekly, was filmed in Los Angeles on January 27, 1984. Three thousand fans watched as a firework display erupted behind the superstar, showering him in sparks and setting light to his hair. Some studio audience members said he was so calm, they thought the incident was part of the act. But seconds later dozens of assistants and stage hands reach him, and he disappeared inside the crowd as they battle to put out the flames.
At the time Jackson wore a popular ‘wet-look’ hairstyle which was kept moist with the help of hair sprays which would have acted as an accelerant to the fire. Jackson kept on dancing doing his trademark turns which actually helped to put out the fire before production staff realized what was happening and rushed to his aid But by then the damage is done, and when Jackson raises his head a large bald patch, with the skin badly scorched, can be seen. The singer instinctively reached to touch his head where a patch of his afro hair has been burnt off leaving the singer’s scalp exposed. He suffered second and third degree burns. To relieve the painful burns on his scalp and body, and later to help him tolerate multiple surgeries on the scorched spot on his head, Jackson was prescribed several medications.