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.

30 seconds to mars mtv unplugged 2011

Uploaded by Maria M on 2011-12-06.

Pearl Jam

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.

Pearl Jam - MTV Unplugged (3/16/1992) HD 1080p

Pearl Jam on MTV's Unplugged in New York, NY on March 16, 1992. Setlist: 1. Oceans - 0:00 2. State of Love and Trust - 4:42 3. Alive - 8:32 4. Black - 14:02 5. Jeremy -19:33 6. Even Flow - 24:50 7. Porch - 30:10


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.”

Stone Temple Pilots ~ MTV Unplugged 1993

Stone Temple Pilots ~ MTV Unplugged 1993 This is an awesome show! I love the Stone Temple Pilots they did a great job on this MTV Unplugged!


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.

Alice In Chains - Down in a Hole (From MTV Unplugged)

Music video by Alice In Chains performing Down in a Hole (From MTV Unplugged). (C) 1996 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock blogger that loves the smell of old vinyl in the morning.

Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock news blogger who's well-versed in etiquette and extraordinarily nice. #TransRightsAreHumanRights

Sign me up for the 101 WRIF Cybercrew email newsletter!

Join the 101 WRIF Cybercrew to get everything that rocks sent right to your inbox from The Riff! You’ll get updates on concerts and your favorite bands, along with exclusive chances to win. Plus news and stories from all around metro Detroit!

By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.