The Very Best of MTV’s Unplugged

Eight unforgettable performances from Music Television’s Golden Age

Kathy Copeland Padden
5 min readMay 21


What a freaking waste

When MTV’s acoustic performance series “Unplugged” debuted in 1989, it ignited, and reignited, many a music career. This scaled-back, less-is-more challenge was embraced by many established artists in the 90s as a way to breathe new life into their work. It also captured for posterity newer bands like Pearl Jam poised on the brink of greatness.

There actually was a time when MTV was culturally relevant, boys and girls. We call it the 80s and 90s. Once the bombastic excesses of the 80s were in the rearview mirror, “Unplugged” became emblematic of a back-to-basics musical philosophy. In my opinion, this was a good thing. I was tired of listening to Vince Neil shriek. Bring on Eddie Veddah!

Here are some standout “Unplugged” performances from back in the day.

Aerosmith (1990)

I lost my ever-lovin’ fangirl mind when Aerosmith graced the world with their performance on “Unplugged.” What a time to be alive and a part of Aeroforce One!

Aerosmith was among the first bands to appear on the series, which isn’t surprising since they’d already mastered harnessing the power of MTV. Aerosmith was one of the first bands to create music videos worth watching instead of the badly produced cheese that was de rigeur at the time.

Say what you want about sober ‘Smith, but I loved this band during their second round of superstardom in the late 80s to the late 90s.

Alice In Chains (1996)

Primarily thanks to Layne Staley’s crippling heroin addiction, Alice in Chains hadn’t been onstage for over two years when they filmed their “Unplugged” on April 10th…



Kathy Copeland Padden

is a music fanatic, classic film aficionado, and history buff surfing the End Times wave like a boss. Come along!