“Good evening. This is off our first record. Most people don’t own it.”
This is how Kurt Cobain introduced “About a Girl,” the perfect opening song on a night when Nirvana’s music was actually going to be taken seriously.
MTV Unplugged was realized years earlier when Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora performed “Wanted Dead or Alive” on the MTV Video Music Awards acoustically. The first ever episode featured Squeeze, Syd Straw and Elliot Easton. Before Nirvana, some acts like Mariah Carey (memorable for her cover of The Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There), Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton (the debut of “Tears In Heaven”) and Pearl Jam (Eddie Vedder writing Pro-Choice on his arm during the acoustic rendition of “Porch”) all had notable appearances.
Nirvana was a different monster. This was a band that was known for being loud. After all, they had just released their third studio album, “In Utero,” with hardcore producer Steve Albini; a man known for his blatant dislike of mainstream music and a musician in his own right with Chicago noise-makers Big Black. Even Krist Novocelic, bassist, was concerned that it wasn’t truly “unplugged” since the acoustic instruments were plugged in.
But Kurt had a sound in mind that was far different from what people were used to. He even spent much of rehearsals yelling at drummer Dave Grohl (known as one of the heaviest hitters behind a kit) to play quieter. Dave almost gave up until a producer gave him a pair of Pro-Mark Hot Rod drum sticks, which are made from bundles of wood. “We ran through a song and Kurt’s face lit up. Those sticks saved the entire show,” he recalled.
This show also introduced many people to the final piece of Nirvana’s line-up: guitarist Pat Smear. Pat was previously in the L.A. punk outfit Germs (whose singer, Darby Crash, was also a heroin addict who committed suicide from an intentional overdose – for more on them, see the film “What We Do Is Secret”). Kurt had said he always pictured Nirvana as a four-piece and on this night it was serenely obvious why.
Watch the whole Unplugged performance here
And read the entire story over at Geekscape