There were two Pepsi commercials lined that Don King lined up as part of the contract with the soft drink company's endorsement of the "Victory" tour. Michael was not pleased with the endorsement. Quaker Oats offered 40 percent more than Pepsi offered, and though the contract was signed, John Branca tried to get Michael out of it. But his mother , Katherine, "talked some sense into him," and the deal was back on.
Michael was in complete control over the commercials. He had final word on EVERYTHING. His brothers, who were paid one million dollars each to do the commercials, would have no say, and that was fine with them.
Michael's experience was not a pleasant on with Pepsi-Cola. Paul McCartney and Jane Fonda thought that he would be "overexposed" by the commercials. In order to solve that problem, he decided that his face should be on camera for one close-up and only for a maximum of four seconds. He wanted his own cameo in his own commercial, and $5 million from Pepsi.
"Use my symbols. Shoot my shoes, my spats, my glove, my look- and then, at the end, reveal me." He even allowed the use of "Billie Jean," in which he would write new Pepsi-jingle lyrics. Michael was not trying to get out of the deal, just make it magical and spectacular. This drove the Pepsi executives crazy.
"I don't think this is going to work," said one executive. "I'm starting to have second thoughts about this Jackson guy and these commercials."
The feeling was mutual with Michael. "I still don't have a good feeling about this. In my heart, I feel it's wrong to endorse something you don't believe in. I think it's a bad omen." Michael shrugged his shoulders and added, "I just gotta make the best of it."
When Michael met with Roger Enrico, president and C.E.O of the Pepsi-Cols Company, he told him, "Roger, I'm going to make Coke wish they were Pepsi."
It was January 27,1984.
Three thousand people were in the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles to simulate a live concert to film the Pepsi commercial. "You're a Whole New Generation" was performed by The Jacksons.
It had been a long day. Most of the group arrived at nine A.M. Tito acted as Michael's stand-in as Michael would not arrive for hours.
The taping began at 6:30pm. Michael began to descend from a podium by going down a staircase with brilliant illumination. His bothers were on the stage, playing. A smoke bomb and some pyrotechnics exploded,as planned, momentarily blocking Michael from view.
There was the famous silhouette. A magnesium flash bomb went off with a loud bang, just two feet from Michael's head. As Michael headed down the stairs, the smoke became too thick. Something seemed wrong.
Michael began to dance.
He did a turn. Then another. Then another.
He spun three times and stood up on his toes.
The audience gasped when Michael turned. The explosion had set his hair ablaze. But Michael continued to perform. He would remember feeling the heat, but attributed it to the hot stage lights. Then, he suddenly he felt the burning pain.
He pulled his jacket over his head and fell to the floor. "Tito! Tito!" he yelled.
The first to respond was Miko Brando, Marlon Brando's son and part of Michael's security team. "I ran out, hugged him, tackled him, and ran my hands through his hair," Brando said, who burned his fingers in the process.
Pandemonium filled the auditorium, as no one in the crowd knew exactly what happened. Some thought it was an assassination attempt.
Authorities wanted Michael to exit from the back, but Michael insisted on leaving where the crowds and photographers were so they could see him. He said he wanted to be able to wave to everyone to show that he was okay.
"No, leave the glove on," he told the ambulance attendants. Ever the showman.
As he was being rolled rolled out, he noticed several Pepsi executives huddled in a corner with worried looks on their faces. They must have realized that this accident could turn out to be one of the biggest lawsuits in history. Michael Jackson could actually own Pepsi once the smoke clears.
Michael had been fortunate. His face and body escaped injury in the accident. He suffered a palm-sized patch of second and third degree burns on the back of his head. There was a quarter sized spot that was a third- degree burn. Doctors said most of his hair would grow back.
Michael had actually visited the burn unit at the same hospital on New Years Day. He visited twenty-three year-old mechanic Keith Perry, who had suffered third-degree burns over 95 percent of his body.
On the day he left the hospital, Michael went from room to room at the unit , saying goodbye, taking photographs, and signing autographs for each of the ten other burn patients.
The nursing supervisor said, "They were really happy he took the time out to see them, despite the fact that he himself was burned. He was an inspiration to them," Michael didn't use it as a "Hi.Bye" visit. He spent ample time with the patients and reached out and touched each bedridden patient with his magic glove.
Thank you J. Randy Taraborrelli "Michael Jackson- The Magic and the Madness" pages 328-333.