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1984: Michael Jackson burned in Pepsi ad
Michael Jackson has received hospital treatment for serious burns to his head after his hair caught light during a freak filming accident.

The 25-year-old entertainer was singing his hit "Billie Jean" for a Pepsi Cola commercial in Los Angeles when the special effects went wrong.

Three thousand fans saw a firework display erupt 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.

He was wonderful. He reassured people even as he was being taken away on a stretcher
Fan Virgina Watson
The singer is reported to have covered his burning hair with his jacket as his brothers and stage hands rushed to help.

One member of the audience, Virginia Watson, witnessed the accident.

"He was wonderful. He reassured people even as he was being taken away on a stretcher", she said.

Michael Jackson was taken to hospital where he was treated for second degree burns.

Plastic surgeon Steven Hoeffin said Jackson, who was voted America's entertainer of the year, could need surgery to his head.

"He is in discomfort", said the doctor. "It will take a few weeks to determine the hair loss."

The superstar is earning a reputed 7m for the series of Pepsi Cola adverts which also feature his four famous brothers. It is part of a huge sponsorship deal the singer agreed last year.

The multimillionaire's album "Thriller" has just entered the Guinness book of records as the best selling LP of all time.

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Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson suffered serious burns to his scalp in the freak accident


In Context
Jackson was at the pinnacle of his career around the time of his accident. He won eight Grammy awards in 1984 but then stories about his bizarre lifestyle began to circulate.

The performer's image was dealt a severe blow when he was accused of abusing Jordy Chandler at his Neverland ranch in 1993. Jackson settled the case out of court with an estimated $20m payment to the Chandler family.

In the same year, Jackson married Lisa-Marie Presley but they divorced 19 months later.

Four years later, the superstar married nurse Debbie Rowe. They had a son and daughter together then divorced in 1999.

Micheal's third child was born to a mystery mother in 2002. He caused a media stir months later, when he dangled the baby off the third floor balcony of a Berlin Hotel in an effort to show the child off to fans.

In November 2003, he was arrested and charged with child abuse after British journalist Martin Bashir had made a documentary in which Jackson admitted sharing his bed with children.

Dubbed the trial of the century, it lasted four months and ended in June 2005 when Michael Jackson was cleared of all charges.

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