November 26, 1989: MTV Unplugged Debuts

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mtv-unplugged-logo-407x407The name of the show has become synonymous with virtually any acoustic and unamplified music. To date it has filmed more than 100 episodes in which popular music artists play their songs acoustically, and along the way it has won the George Foster Peabody Award and been nominated for three Primetime Emmy nominations.

MTV Unplugged was originally developed and pitched to MTV by television producers Bob Small and Jim Burns with songwriter/musical artist Jules Shear (known for his work with the bands Funky Kings, Jules and the Polar Bears and Reckless Sleepers, and for writing the hits “All Through the Night” for Cyndi Lauper and “If She Knew What She Wants” for the Bangles). Shear was the host of the first 13 episodes and performed his own songs.

The very first show on November 26, 1989, featured Squeeze, Syd Straw and Elliot Easton of The Cars.

Artists that appeared on its first incarnation include Aerosmith, Elton John, Sinéad O’Connor, Poison and Stevie Ray Vaughan, among others. The show was then reconfigured to feature a single artist in each episode.

Some 30 Unplugged performances have been released as albums. The most successful of them all is Eric Clapton’s Unplugged performance, recorded in London on January 16, 1992. Its album sold 10 million copies in the U.S. and 26 million worldwide, Clapton earned six Grammy Awards for the album, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Best Rock Male Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song.

Unplugged has featured artists from across the pop music genres and resulted in a number iconic musical moments in its 30+ years. Among the dozens of classic rock legends are: the Eagles, R.E.M., Neil Young, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Duran Duran, Sheryl Crow, Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan. See the complete list here.

Related: Listings for 100s of classic rock tours

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