Some say that Michael Jackson was at the pinnacle of his career in 1984. He won eight awards during the Grammys that year, and was gifted an award for his charity work at the White House by President Ronald Reagan.
1984 also saw his Victory Tour, when Jackson consolidated his position as the world's greatest entertainer and played his new solo material to more than two million Americans, including hit singles Billie Jean and Beat It.
However, 1984 would also go down in Michael Jackson's history as a year that changed his life for another very different reason... While filming a Pepsi commercial in January of that year, his hair caught fire during a filming of a Pepsi commercial.
According to reports, Jackson suffered second-degree burns to his scalp and later underwent treatment to hide the scars. Even after his death, the media (like the above CNN report) speculated that his accident had lead to a life-long addiction to painkillers and plastic surgery.
However, this quote from fan Virginia Watson, among the three thousand-strong audience which saw the accident happen, is perhaps closer to the truth: "He was wonderful. He reassured people even as he was being taken away on a stretcher," she said at the time.
For years after his accident, Jackson continued to film iconic and unforgettable adverts for the drinks manufacturer (like The Chase, shown above, filmed a few years later).
"More so than an autograph, it was a sign of affection"
Regardless of the negative implications of his accident, Michael Jackson was at the height of his powers while filming the Pepsi commercial. Around that time, his album "Thriller" has just entered the Guinness book of records as the best selling LP of all time.
For his reason, memorabilia from this period of Jackson's career is highly valued on the collectors markets - and some pieces are stranger than others. Among the pieces to emerge on the market are pieces of hair salvaged from the Pepsi commercial incident.
While the idea of collecting celebrity hair may seem strange - even creepy - to some, it is in fact a tradition that dates back to Victorian times. Back then, a celebrity was more likely to give you their hair than an autograph.
Endorsers of celebrity hair include Harry Rubenstein, a curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, who once commented: "More so than an autograph, it was a sign of affection."
From John Lennon to Che Guevara...
In the late-1960s, John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono donated a bag of their hair to be auctioned for the benefit a London Black Power commune. Since then, hairs form the heads of John Lennon, Elvis Presley and others have sold for tens of thousands at auction.
A clump of hair from the head of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara sold for $100,000 (£68,000) in October 2007. Elsewhere, a single strand of Elvis Presley's hair sold for £1,055 in November 2009, while locks from his famous quiff have once brought $115,000 (nearly £71,340) at auction.
Not surprisingly, Jackson's hair is out there for sale as well - including from his infamous Pepsi commercial accident. Website asmallpieceofhistory.com is presently offering Jackson's hair from the accident for £149.99.
Tomorrow (January 27) is the 17th anniversary of Jackon's Pepsi accident, and anniversaries traditionally boost the values of celebrity memorabilia on the markets. With this in mind - and the huge values achieved by celebrity hair on the auction block - Michael Jackson's hair could be the perfect entry-level investment for collectors.
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