Michael was badly injured while filming a commercial for PepsiCo on January 27, 1984. He suffered a second and third-degree burn to his face and scalp. His hair and jacket caught fire when he moved too close to pyrotechnics display that went off too early behind him while performing at the Shrine Auditorium. He had surgery to repair the damage done to his scalp. PepsiCo settled out of court with Michael and he donated the $1.5 million payment to the Brotman Medical Center; where he was treated for the burn. The Medical Center was later named Michael Jackson Burn Center in his honour. Jackson later signed another deal with Pepsi, this time for $10 million.
It was later reported that the pain Michael suffered on his scalp from the burns was prolonged and led to his prescription pill addiction. His hair never grew back properly either, which reportedly led to Michael wearing wigs.
SKIN CHANGE AND APPEARANCE
Michael Jackson’s gradual skin change from brown to white in the mid-1980s sparked a lot of reactions and speculations that he was bleaching his skin. The King of Pop was an African-American, so the change in appearance led to speculations of Michael’s denial of his heritage and cosmetic surgeries.
In 1993, Jackson during a television interview with Oprah Winfrey, he explained that the change in his skin tone was the result of a skin condition known as vitiligo. Vitiligo causes white patches on the skin and sensitivity to sunlight. To treat the condition, Michael used fair-coloured makeup and skin whitening prescription creams to cover up the uneven blotches of colour caused by the skin disorder. The creams further lightened his skin which resulted in criticism that he was trying to appear white. Michael Jackson said in his interview that he had not purposely bleached his skin and that he was not trying to be anything he was not. He also said, “When people make up stories that I don’t want to be who I am, it hurts me. It’s a problem for me. I can’t control it. But what about all the millions of people who sit in the sun to become darker?… to become other than what they are. Nobody says nothing about that.” He also stated that he didn’t want to look like a “spotted cow”.
Michael covered his skin disorder with long sleeves, rhinestones gloves and long pants. He usually avoided wearing light clothing to avoid drawing attention to the disorder. His autopsy confirmed that he had vitiligo. His skin was found to have reduced melanocytes, the cells active in skin pigmentation.
In 1986, tabloids reported that Jackson slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to slow ageing. A picture of him lying in a glass box also surfaced, however, the claim was denied.
Michael had his first rhinoplasty after breaking his nose during a rehearsal while dancing, but the surgery was not a complete success. He had breathing difficulties which affected his daily life. He then had the second rhinoplasty in 1981. Three years later, he had his third rhinoplasty and a fourth in 1986. He wrote in his 1988 autobiography Moonwalk that in addition to the two rhinoplasties, he also had a dimple created in his chin.
Michael had health issues which led to the cancellation of a lot of his concerts. In 1990, he was admitted for bruised ribs suffered during a dance practice. Two of his concerts were cancelled due to swollen vocal cords. In 1992, his concert in England was postponed due to a viral infection and his concert in Greece was cancelled due to loss of voice. In late 1995, he was rushed to a hospital after collapsing during a performance rehearsal. He was reported to have irregular beats, gastro-intestinal inflammation, dehydration, and kidney and liver irregularities. He suffered a back injury in July 1997 after one of the stages collapsed during a concert in Munich, Germany. During his child abuse trial, he received treatments for back pain and had to sit during the trial because of the pain.
In November 1993, he announced the cancellation of the remaining Dangerous Tour due to an addiction to painkillers which had been prescribed after a recent constructive scalp surgery. Jackson said due to the pressure caused by the child molestation allegations and the stress of the Dangerous Tour, he was “physically and emotionally exhausted.” He said he had “become increasingly more dependent on painkillers,” and would seek treatment.
The first child molestation allegation against Michael emerged in August 1993 when a 13 years old boy, Jordan Chandler claimed Michael molested him. Michael was known for his love for kids and he often had children for sleepovers at his Neverland ranch. Michael denied all charges against him and police found no evidence after conducting a search at his ranch. Jordan Chandler gave a description of Michael’s genitals and a strip search was conducted at the Neverland ranch. Michael described the strip search as “the most humiliating ordeal” of his life. The jurors concluded that Jordan’s description was not a match. In January 1994, Michael settled with the Chandlers out of court for $25 million, though he was acquitted due to lack of evidence and contradictory statement by the defendants. The investigation was finally closed in September 1994.
In 2003, during a television documentary, Living with Michael Jackson, British journalist Martin Bashir spent several months with the singer. During the documentary, he admitted that he continued to have children sleepover at his ranch even after the 1993 allegations and that sometimes the children sleep on his bed. “Why can’t you share your bed? That’s the most loving thing to do, to share your bed with someone,” Jackson told Bashir. The documentary showed him holding hands and discussing sleeping arrangements with a 12-year-old boy.
On December 18, 2003, The Santa Barbara authorities charged Jackson with seven counts of child molestation and four counts of intoxicating a minor to molest him. The singer denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to all counts. More than 130 people testified, including Macaulay Culkin. The actor told the court that he had been friends with Michael since he was a young teen and Michael never molested him. After a 14 weeks trial, he was acquitted in 2005.