Today (April 5) marks the 27th and 19th anniversaries of the passing of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and Alice In Chains’ Layne Staley.
Cobain and Staley were two voices that helped define a genre, a generation and a changing of the guard. Both were incredible forces live as evident in their performances on MTV Unplugged.
In their memory, take a look back on the Nirvana and Alice In Chains episodes of MTV Unplugged as well as these four other outstanding performances.
Recorded just five months before the untimely passing of Kurt Cobain, 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 death, and it would go on to win the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.
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 a performance of “Fall On Me” from their 1991 set.
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.