MTV Unplugged yielded many incredible performances, including Nirvana’s now-iconic set.
Recorded in November 1993 and released on this day (November 1) in 1994, Nirvana: MTV Unplugged in New York came out seven months after the shocking death of Kurt Cobain. It would debut at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart and go on to win a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.
In honor of the album’s release, here’s a look at that set as well as five other classic MTV Unplugged performances.
While the band’s own material (specifically “All Apologies”) received new life from the Unplugged treatment, it’s Nirvana’s cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World” that was the set’s surprise highlight.
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 Staley’s issues with drug abuse. It would also be one of the band’s last high-profile gigs with the singer. 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.
Stone Temple Pilots
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.”
R.E.M is responsible for two marvelous MTV Unplugged performances from 1991 and 2001, which were both released in 2014 as Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions. Below is their set from 1991.
Pearl Jam simply crushes it in this set from March 1992, about seven months after the release of Pearl Jam’s debut album Ten.
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.