Today marks the 7th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s untimely passing ending the life of America’s greatest, if not most understood, entertainer. As most people know, Michael died of a drug overdose at the hands of his personal physician. What people may not know is that his death, while at once wholly preventable, was set into motion by a bad business deal his father signed nearly 30 years earlier. I say all that to say this:
Michael Jackson would still be alive if the Jacksons Victory Tour had been sponsored by Quaker Oats, as Michael had wanted, instead of Pepsi. More specifically, he would still be alive if Joe Jackson had never hired Don King to be the group’s tour manager.
In 1983 while gearing up for the Victory Tour, the Jacksons themselves were shopping the sponsorship rights for the tour. They found a willing bidder in Quaker Oats and were prepared to sign a deal with them when King, their tour manager, revealed that he’d signed a deal with Pepsi on the family’s behalf.
This was extremely frustrating for Michael as he didn’t drink Pepsi AND the deal with Quaker Oats would have paid the group 40% more than the $5 million deal King had signed with Pepsi.
Alas, the group went forward with Pepsi and the first order of business was shooting two commercials; including the one that would end with Michael going to the hospital with second degree burns on his scalp after his hair caught on fire:
Michael, who had never taken any drugs before in his life, would initially refuse painkillers but started taking them after he left the hospital. This would lead to an addiction that would take his life.
So let’s say Joe Jackson didn’t disregard Michael’s advice to hire Don King and the Jacksons are able to negotiate their own deal with Quaker Oats, what then?
Well, I’m not God (omniscience and all that) but you’d be hard-pressed to find yourself doing commercials with pyrotechnics when most Quaker Oats commercials at the time looked like this:
Michael Jackson was/is my favorite artist of all time, he should still be with us today.