Twenty-nine years ago today (October 31), the very first episode of MTV Unplugged was recorded.
That episode featured the band Squeeze, and since that performance, some of the biggest names in music would go on to give timeless performances on the show. In honor of this anniversary, here are seven outstanding rock performances from MTV Unplugged.
You can’t talk about MTV Unplugged without talking about Nirvana’s performance. Recorded just five months before Kurt Cobain’s untimely passing, the band’s performance would later be released as the live LP MTV Unplugged in New York. It was Nirvana’s first release following Cobain’s suicide, and it would go on to win the GRAMMY for Best Alternative Music Album.
R.E.M is the reason this list goes to seven and not six, because they’re responsible for two marvelous performances from 1991 and 2001 which were both released in 2014 as Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions.
Thirty Seconds To Mars
Later episodes in MTV Unplugged’s history are tragically overlooked, but this incredible set from Thirty Seconds To Mars more than holds its own thanks to Jared Leto’s dynamic vocal performance.
Speaking of dynamic vocal performances, Eddie Vedder simply kills it in this set from March 1992, about seven months after the release of Pearl Jam’s debut album Ten.
Stone Temple Pilots
Honestly, MTV Unplugged is just a goldmine of remarkable performances for anyone that loves rock from the 90s. Stone Temple Pilots recorded their set in 1993, which marked the first time they performed “Big Empty.”
Alice In Chains
Equal parts extraordinary and bitter-sweet, AIC’s 1996 performance on MTV Unplugged was the band’s first performance together in over two years due to Layne Staley’s issues with drug abuse. It would also be one of the band’s last high-profile gigs with Staley. In spite of that and Jerry Cantrell famously battling food poisoning, AIC’s set served as a reminder of why they were the first band to really break out of the fruitful Seattle music scene.
Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock blogger that loves the smell of old vinyl in the morning.