26th Anniversary of Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged Performance


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Alexis Collins, Staff Writer

26 years ago, the legendary band, Nirvana performed arguably their best show on November 18, 1993 on the popular series MTV Unplugged. Unlike any other Nirvana show before the band played almost all lesser-known songs and even covers. Less than six months later on April 5, 1994 frontman Kurt Cobain tragically took his life. Shortly after Cobain’s death the performance was released as an album and reached number one on the charts in Australia, North America and across Europe. 

Cobain insisted the stage to be decorated with black candles, flowers, and a crystal chandelier to give the stage a gloomy funeral look. When the show producer asked, “You mean like a funeral?” Cobain replied  “Exactly. Like a funeral.” Nirvana wanted their show to be like no other MTV Unplugged concert ever done before. Cobain even insisted the show not be totally unplugged and brought his Fender Twin Reverb amp and refused to do the show without it. The show’s producer tried to cover the amp with a fake box.

Nirvana brought on former tour friends the Meat Puppets and did covers of their tracks Plateau, Oh, Me, and Lake Of Fire. MTV was not fond of this decision due to the Meat Puppets not having many hits but Cobain insisted on the band joining them. MTV actually had a lot of complaints about the decisions Nirvana made like playing none of their hit songs except Come As You Are, not being totally unplugged, as well as Cobain’s refusal to do an encore. Although Dave, Chris, and Pat were on board Cobain refused, saying “I can’t top that last song.”

With an incredible setlist and spectacular musicians, Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged blew fans away. Even the band was blown away because they had very little practice for it and drummer Dave Grohl recalls “We did a few rehearsals and they were terrible. Everyone thought it was horrible. Even the people from MTV thought it was horrible. Then we sat down and the cameras started rolling and something clicked. It became one of the band’s most memorable performances.” Sadly, not long after, Cobain took his own life and left his family and fans heartbroken. Following his death, DGC Records released the performance as a record. This was a huge success ranking number one on the Billboard 200 and even won a grammy for Best Alternative Music Album in 1996. Fans cherished this album as a goodbye to their idol and Nirvana itself.  Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged was a miraculous and sentimental piece of Nirvana’s history and hopefully is not to be forgotten.