News-Antique.com - Jan 26,2011 - On 27th January 1984 Michael Jackson was singing his hit "Billie Jean" for a Pepsi Cola commercial in Los Angeles when the special effects went wrong.
On the sixth take, fireworks erupted too early, igniting the singer's head in flames. Jackson was at first unaware he was on fire, and continued dancing.
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.
Executive producer for the Pepsi commercial, Ralph Cohen, was among the first to aid Jackson.
As seen on the now famous video, Cohen threw his jacket over Jackson's head to help extinguish the flames.
The Michael Jackson hair that was retrieved by Ralph Cohen is now being offered for sale by collectibles firm www.asmallpieceofhistory.com who hold one the world’s largest inventories of historical hair.
Celebrity hair with this level of provenance rarely appears on the market.
Many say Jackson was never the same after the accident, during which he suffered second and third-degree burns on his scalp and body, and after which some believe he developed an addiction to painkillers and an obsession with plastic surgery.
Michael Jackson’s friend David Gest has said of the incident;
"Michael was in so much pain after that, he became unbalanced. The trauma, and the pills (painkillers), changed him,"
Hair collecting was hugely popular in the Victorian era.
Approach your favourite celebrity and they wouldn'’t give you an autograph... if you were lucky they would cut you a lock of hair.
Harry Rubenstein, a curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History commented "“more so than an autograph, it was a sign of affection".”
A SmallPieceOfHistory spokesperson commented:
“Collectors are increasingly appreciating that a strand of hair is the most personal item that can be added to a collection of historical memorabilia.”
In fact Historians have used hair from collectors to determine that Thomas Jefferson fathered a child with one of his slaves, and that Beethoven suffered from lead poisoning.
Collecting hair is a truly unique way to build a valuable collection.
In recent years locks from Babe Ruth have sold for $38,000 at auction, John Lennon for $48,000, Elvis Presley for $115,000 and Che Guevara for $119,500.
A single Elvis hair sold for $1,750 at a British auction in 2009.