Music-versary: Nirvana Unplugged in New York was recorded November 18, 1993

Nirvana UnpluggedCredits: Nirvana (Kurt Cobain: guitar, vocals; Dave Grohl: drums; Krist Novoselic: accordion, bass; Pat Smear: guitar, ); Lori Goldston, cello; Cris and Curt Kurkwood, of the Meat Puppets. 

Background: Kurt Cobain was never comfortable with fame. His fear of the spotlight would eventually drive him to kill himself with a shotgun in April 1994, ending his life before the public was able to absorb everything he had to offer. But fewer than five months before his death, Cobain gave one of his most honest, tense, and beautiful performances with his band—and luckily for his fans, all of it, from his self-deprecating jokes to his awkward smiles, were recorded live for posterity.

Cobain and his band, at first, didn’t want to participate in the cable channel’s live music series. Legends like Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney had performed, but the band didn’t like the artists’ usual approach, with Dave Grohl comparing previous performances to sets from “Madison Square Garden, except with acoustic guitars.” Instead, they used fellow Sub-Pop artist Mark Lanegan’s 1990 acoustic work The Winding Sheet (an album that both Cobain and Krist Novoselic had appeared on) as their inspiration, letting the audience in on the most intimate acoustic performance of their career. Instead of breaking out their biggest hits—“You want me to play ‘In Bloom’ acoustically?!” Cobain responded to one audience member’s shouted request—they decided on lesser-known tracks from early releases and a slew of covers from everyone from the Vaselines to David Bowie and Lead Belly. The result was harrowing, made even more poignant by the frontman’s tragic death just a few months later.

Side Meat: Phoenix punk outfit the Meat Puppets had been around since the 1980s, but were finally gaining traction in 1993 when they were chosen as the opening band for Nirvana’s In Utero tour. Founding members Cris and Curt Kurkwood appeared on stage with them for the final set of songs—including three of the opening band’s own. “Our appearance on the Unplugged was such a gas,” Cris later said. “What a cool use of your new-found popularity: take the fucking Meat Puppets on TV and shove them down everybody’s throats! My kind of art making.” 

Kurt’s Famous Locks: Part of the stripped down nature of the band’s MTV set was their stripped down look, eternally defined by the singer’s dirty off-white tshirt and fuzzy green cardigan—which was sold just this month at auction. Also supposed to be on the block? A lock of Cobain’s hair, leftover from the hair doll Courtney Love had made for their daughter Frances, starting at $4,000. Though the sweater went for $137,500, over twice the expected price, the hair was luckily taken off sale before the auction began.

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