MTV’s Unplugged is returning to the pop culture network this fall.
The live performance series, which debuted in 1989 and peaked in the mid-1990s with high-profile sets by Eric Clapton, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Rod Stewart, delivered stripped-down versions of classic hits by a wide range or artists.
The primarily acoustic format was inspired by a series of highly-publicised benefit performances in the late 70s and early 80s organised by the UK branch of Amnesty International, including Pete Townshend’s appearance at The Secret Policeman’s Ball in 1979 and other acts in the 1982 sequel The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball, with compilation albums released from both events.
MTV revealed Unplugged’s return as part of corporate media presentation in New York that announced additions to the network’s 2016 lineup with a renewed focus on music after years of reality-based programming.
The network says: “Through its distinctive format, MTV Unplugged manages the miraculous feat of reaching beyond core fans to connect contemporary artists to heritage audiences and heritage artists to younger audiences in equal measures.
“The conditions are right in 2016 to do it again. The revitalised Unplugged will restore key elements that made the franchise so groundbreaking in the first place, while resetting the show in the multi-platform video world of today.”
MTV President Sean Atkins adds: “We’re on a mission to reignite MTV with everything that makes it one of the world’s most iconic brands – its soul of music, its love of pop culture, and its unexpected, groundbreaking creative.”
Clapton’s 1992 Unplugged album gave the series a huge profile boost and helped revive the guitarist’s career with three Grammy Awards and sales of more than 26 million copies worldwide.
Nirvana’s 1993 set, MTV Unplugged In New York, was released in 1994 as the band’s first album following the death of frontman Kurt Cobain. The project went on to sell more than 11 million copies.