MTV Unplugged showcased musical artists performing in an acoustic and intimate setting, often featuring stripped-down versions of their popular songs. The show gained significant popularity during its initial run from 1989 to 1999.
While the performances on MTV Unplugged primarily focused on acoustic instruments, such as acoustic guitars and traditional pianos, there were instances where other instruments like the bass guitar or Hammond organ were still amplified to maintain the overall sound.
The idea for MTV Unplugged is often attributed to a performance by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards (See performance below as well). However, it is worth noting that the show was already in production at the time, and Bon Jovi’s acoustic performance merely helped popularize the concept further.
During the ’90s, many of our favorite ’80s rock and pop stars appeared on the show. We culled through a ton of footage online and found ten memorable performances by ’80s bands performing one of their biggest ’80s hits. Enjoy this look back at ten memorable MTV Unplugged performances from Great White, A-ha, Poison, 10,000 Maniacs, KISS, Rod Stewart, Bryan Adams, Duran Duran, George Michael, and The Smithereens!
Great White – “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”
A-ha – “Take On Me”
Poison – “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”
10,000 Maniacs – “These Are The Days”
KISS – “Beth”
Rod Stewart – “Forever Young”
Bryan Adams – “Heaven”
Duran Duran – “Hungry Like The Wolf”
George Michael – “Father Figure”
The Smithereens – “Only a Memory” + “A Girl Like You”
Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora – “Livin’ On A Prayer” and “Wanted Dead Or Alive” Live at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1989