The Accident that Sparked Jackson's Addiction

Michael Jackson said injuries from this 1984 fire led to his drug addiction.

ByABC News
July 15, 2009, 1:08 PM

July 15, 2009— -- Never-before-seen footage of a 1984 commercial shoot shows Michael Jackson's hair accidentally catching fire, an incident that would lead to a decades-long addiction to sedatives that may have played a role in his death last month.

The raw footage shot for a Pepsi commercial on Jan. 27, 1984 at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium and obtained by Us Magazine, shows Jackson descending a flight of stairs when the pyrotechnics on stage go off early and engulf the singer's head in flames.

At first Jackson – wearing a sequined shirt, jacket and signature glove – continues to dance unaware as flames and smoke emanate from his hair. As the fireball grows around his head, he is set upon by members of the crew who tamp out the flames.

In the video, one can easily observe a large red bald spot in the center of Jackson's head after the flames have been extinguished.

Jackson suffered second- and third-degree burns to his scalp and the back of his head, prompting him to begin using and then abusing painkillers, he would later admit.

US magazine, which contains pictures of the incident, hits newsstands Friday. The magazine also suggests that the accident kicked off Jackson's obsession with plastic surgery. The magazine has not said how it obtained the Pepsi footage.

Police investigating Jackson's June 25 death have confirmed that his home was filled with powerful prescription drugs including the painkillers Oxycontin and Demerol and the hospital-grade anesthetic Diprivan.

The then 25-year-old Jackson was taken by ambulance to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

"Michael is quite shocked. He's fortunate that there were no injuries to his face," Dr. Steve Hoefflin told reporters at the time of the accident. "At this time I don't think skin grafts are necessary."

Hoefflin is now retired and could not be reached by ABC

"Within two weeks of the fire, Michael was back on his feet and in good spirits," Jay Coleman, the agent who repped Jackson when he cut the deal with Pepsi, told ABC

Coleman was not at the shoot, but said the accident made front-page news and the ads were run on the television news weeks before they officially ran as paid spots beginning in February 1984.