Arguably, one of the most influential and remembered artists of all time is the late Michael Jackson. 14 years after his passing, Jackson’s music is still admired and fondly remembered, influencing performers and musicians from all walks of life.

Branded the “King of Pop”, Jackson remains one of the best-selling music artists ever. Born in August 1958, Jackson embarked on a four-decade musical career first as a member of the Jackson 5 (along with his older brothers) before establishing himself as a flourishing solo artist, creating endless catchy tunes and innovative music videos.

(L-R) Tito, Marlon (front), Jermaine, Michael and Jackie Jackson 
Credit: Gilles Petard/Redferns

It’s not only his music that is celebrated. Jackson often would assist with choreographing complex street dance routines that, paired with his music, captured audiences’ attention. One notable signature dance move Jackson brought into the mainstream was the moonwalk (taught by Jeffrey Daniel), which he debuted on the 1983 television special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever during his performances of the hit song “Billie Jean”.

Michael Jackson performs ‘Billie Jean’ on the TV show Motown 25 – Yesterday, Today, Forever on May 16, 1983.
Featuring his first debut of the ‘Moonwalk’ Picture: Getty

But to become a global superstar and pop culture figure, you also need to look the part, which is exactly what Jackson did. Throughout his solo career, Jackson’s fashion choices hit all the right notes and separated him from everyone else in the game. Fedoras, the rhinestone-covered white glove, military influences, and distinctive jackets. Speaking of jackets …

Propstore is pleased to offer a clothing piece associated with the iconic performer at a thriving point in his career in our upcoming Music section of our Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction.

Michael Jackson’s Photo-matched Black-and-White “Pepsi Commercial” Leather Jacket

One of the most sought-after clothing pieces associated with Jackson is his signature leather jackets. The legendary red leather jacket from the 1983 “Thriller” music video, directed by John Landis, is undoubtedly one of the most iconic pieces of music history, sparking a phenomenon in the 1980s and becoming the most sought-after piece of outerwear. However, there was a second leather jacket in his collection that gained a lot of attention.

Michael Jackson in the iconic red ‘Thriller Jacket’
Picture: Alamy

In late 1983, Jackson and his brothers settled on a record-breaking (at the time) deal and partnership with PepsiCo. This resulted in Jackson being featured in several commercials for the brand advertising the Pepsi product. The idea was to make the Pepsi drink appeal to a younger audience and what better way than to have an endorsement of the coolest star at the time. The Pepsi New Generation “Street” music video was released in the United States on March 27, 1984, soon after the “Thriller” music video was released. The commercial features Jackson and the other members of the Jackson 5 dancing alongside a young Alfonso Ribiero. Jackson wore his black-and-white zippered leather jacket throughout the advert, exhibiting a similar aesthetic to the “Thriller” jacket.

Michael Jackson on the set of the Pepsi Ad 1984. Screengrabs taken from the ‘Making of Thriller’ Video

Though this jacket is most associated with the commercial, the King of Pop was seen wearing it on several occasions prior to the advert. This includes in the behind-the-scenes documentary “The Making of Thriller” video shot in October 1983 which showcases the entire process of creating and shooting the legendary music video. Jackson can be seen wearing the black-and-white jacket during dance rehearsals and in images taken on set with John Landis. Additionally, he is also wearing the jacket in images taken at a private screening of the Thriller video in Westwood (Los Angeles) on November 21, 1983.

Michael Jackson at “Thriller” music video Private screening, 1983

This jacket comes from consignor Wendell Thompson, who formed a friendship with Jackson, first meeting him at Thompson’s father’s cosmetology shop in 1980. A contact suggested to Michael that he visit the shop in Orlando to get his hair styled. Jackson continued to visit Orlando and the shop on a regular basis. During these visits, Jackson would spend time socialising with Thompson and his family. In early 1984, Jackson visited Walt Disney World and went out to dinner with a group which included Thompson and one of the hair stylists from the shop. After the meal, the group returned to Thompson’s father’s shop, where Jackson suggested that Thompson try on his black-and-white leather jacket. When he attempted to return the garment to Jackson after trying it on, Jackson told him to keep it and explained that he had just worn it while filming the upcoming Pepsi commercial.

Michael Jackson with the consignor and his family (early 1980s)

This jacket can be photo-matched to an image of Jackson wearing it with the consignor, taken at the time it was gifted. The positioning of the components (zips, studs etc.) appears to line up exactly to images and footage from the Pepsi commercial and the “Making of Thriller”. The low quality of these reference sources means the jacket cannot be screen-matched. However, this jacket offered is the only custom-made black-and-white zippered jacket with direct provenance and a photo match to the period that we are aware of in the collector’s market. It is unknown whether this is Jackson’s only black-and-white zippered jacket or whether multiple custom-made copies were made.

Image of Michael Jackson with Wendell the consignor on the day he got the jacket (1984)

Custom-made to Jackson’s small build, the garment is made of black and white panels of soft leather. The jacket is decorated with an array of metal zips and stud detailing. There are no manufacturer’s labels present inside the garment. Both the red Thriller jacket and the black-and-white zippered jacket had a significant impact on pop culture. Several unlicensed replicas were quickly manufactured and offered to the public, included ones by maker “METAL. This has resulted in METAL jackets occasionally being offered as originals worn by Jackson.

Michael Jackson’s Photo-matched Black-and-White “Pepsi Commercial” Leather Jacket

The lot comes with an array of additional content, including a hand-signed photo of Michael Jackson with an inscribed message addressed “To Wendell”, an original Polaroid of Jackson with Thompson on the day that he received the jacket, commercially purchased images of scenes from the Pepsi commercial and more.

Included in the lot: A signed photo card of Michael Jackson addressed to the consignor

The direct provenance and unique story that attributes this jacket to being previously owned by Jackson make it a “thrilling” piece of memorabilia. This is a rare opportunity to own a recognisable vintage wardrobe item from the “King of Pop” and make it part of your collection. You can see the full listing for this lot and the entire music catalogue now on our website. The music section of the auction takes place on the 10th November.

Check out the day 2 content here.

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