WATCH: The Most Memorable MTV Unplugged Sessions Ever

27 December 2017, 13:09

Simon Neil Biffy Clyro MTV Unplugged 2017

To mark the sad news that MTV Unplugged co-creator Jim Burns has died at 65, we look back at the acoustic series with Biffy Clyro, R.E.M, Oasis, Nirvana and more.

Jim Burns, the co-creator of the iconic acoustic performance series MTV unplugged, passed away aged 65 on Tuesday 26 December.

According to Billboard, Burns - who created the famous format with Robert Small in 1989 - had been hospitalised in a critical condition since Saturday 23 December after being hit by a yellow cab taxi in New York. 

As the sad news is confirmed of Burns' death, we celebrate what he achieved by looking back at some of the most memorable MTV Unplugged sessions of all time. 

Oasis - 1996

Their epic gig at the Royal Festival Hall London saw Liam Gallagher refuse to perform, instead leaving his brother Noel to take the reins. Noel, who remarked: "Liam ain't gonna be with us 'cause he's got a sore throat, so you're stuck with the ugly four," went on to play a 12-song set to a captive audience. Unbelievably, despite not wanting to join them on stage, his brother Liam watched the whole show and heckled from the crowd. 

R.E.M - 1991

To support the release of their Out Of Time album, the band performed a striking rendition of Losing My Religion with members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center in Madison, Georgia. The band went on to play another MTV Unplugged session in 2001- a testament to their longevity and popularity as a band. 


Bob Dylan - 1994

Decades after going electric, Bob Dylan went acoustic again (sort of), delighting audiences with performances which lasted two nights and included renditions of his biggest hits. 

Watch him perform Knocking On Heaven's Door: 


Alanis Morissette - 1999

On 8 September 1999, the Canadian artist performed a selection of tracks, including songs from her 1995 album, Jagged Little Pill and its 1998 follow-up, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie.

Watch her performance of Ironic, which solidified her status as one of the biggest singer-songwriters of the nineties: 

Biffy Clyro - 2017

Bringing MTV Unplugged back to London for a one-off special to celebrate the MTV EMA's, Simon Neil and co. went down to the woods for their intimate performance, showcasing the best of their career and latest album, Ellipsis. No doubt taking inspiration from Nirvana's iconic Unplugged set as the band admitted to practicing it in their garage before they got famous, the band were surrounded by an ethereal forest setting. Simon Neil - who was clad in a kimono - also covered The Beach Boys' God Only Knows, which he dedicated to his wife.
There isn't any official footage of the performance, but see pictures of the magical night below: 

Queens Of The Stone Age - 2005

Playing their first ever MTV Unplugged session, Josh Homme and co. performed a selection of tracks in Berlin from their Lullabies To Paralaze album, which was released earlier that year.

Watch them play In My Head here: 

Nirvana - 1993

No discussion about MTV Unplugged would be complete without mentioning Nirvana. Recorded around five months before Kurt Cobain's suicide, their Unplugged session became the last televised performance of the troubled singer before he died. 

Unlike many MTV Unplugged sessions, it wasn't Nirvana's own track, but instead a David Bowie cover which became one of the most memorable performances of all time.

Watch the band perform Bowie's Man Who Sold The World below: 

Lead photo credit: Simon Neil Biffy Clyro MTV Unplugged/Jim Dyson / Stringer