Photo by Africa Studio/Shutterstock

6 Notable Classic Rock Performances from ‘MTV Unplugged’

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 six of the most notable MTV Unplugged performances from classic rock artists.

 

Eric Clapton

Clapton’s Unplugged performance was released as a proper album in 1992 and has gone on to sell over 26 million copies worldwide.  It would also nab the GRAMMYs for Album of the Year and Best Rock Song for the acoustic rendition of “Layla.”  Of course, we’d be remiss in not mentioning the Unplugged version of “Tears in Heaven,” which remains devastatingly moving to this day.

Eric Clapton - Tears In Heaven - Unplugged - alternate take

This is the first take of Tears In Heaven as recorded at Bray Studios, Windsor, in 1992. Clapton played it again shortly afterwards and the second take was used on the commercial release. This slightly inferior first take is very similar, but with some of the guitar fills changed around etc.

 

Rod Stewart

Another incredible Unplugged performance that was also released as an LP, Stewart’s appearance on the show also featured former Faces bandmate Ronnie Wood and marked the first time in about two decades they shared the stage together.

Rod Stewart - Stay With Me (Official Live Video)

Watch the live unplugged video for Rod Stewart's "Stay With Me." Stewart is a British singer-songwriter, born and raised in North London, England. Stewart has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best selling artists of all time.

 

KISS

Another album release AND reunion!  KISS’ 1995 appearance on Unplugged featured the four original band members on stage together for the first time since the late 70’s and was so popular that it led to KISS’ famed 1996 reunion tour.

KISS Unplugged Reunion

Original Kiss members on MTV Unplugged, 1995

Paul McCartney

Fun fact about Sir Paul’s appearance on Unplugged:  It was completely unplugged.  Most other performances featured artists playing acoustically with the help of amps.  It was also one of the first performances in the show’s history.

Paul McCartney - Every Night (Live)

Paul McCartney - Every Night Live & Unplugged MTV 1991

 

The Eagles

While technically not released as an official Unplugged special, The Eagles’ 1994 Hell Freezes Over special on MTV was produced by the Unplugged team.  So, we think that definitely counts.

Hotel California (Live On MTV/1994)

Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group Hotel California (Live On MTV/1994) · Eagles Hell Freezes Over ℗ 1994 Geffen Records Released on: 1994-11-08 Producer: Eagles Producer: Elliot Scheiner Producer: Rob Jacobs Author: Glenn Frey Composer Lyricist: Don Felder Composer Lyricist: Don Henley Auto-generated by YouTube.

 

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page

Boy…Unplugged sure had a thing for reunions!  Who could forget Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page’s set from 1994?  As with other Unplugged performances, this one was also released as an LP three months after its recording.

The Rain Song - Jimmy Page & Robert Plant

The Rain Song from No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded with the London Metropolitan Orchestra Vocals: Robert Plant Guitar: Jimmy Page Bass: Charlie Jones Drums: Michael Lee

 

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