Thirty years ago today, Eric Clapton released what has become the best-selling album of his career, Unplugged.
The 14-track acoustic live collection features performances from an episode of the MTV Unplugged series that was shot in front of an intimate audience in January of 1992 at Bray Studios outside of London and premiered in March of that year.
The Unplugged album spent three weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart in March 1993. It included one hit single, a low-key, jazzy rendition of Eric’s 1971 Derek and the Dominos classic “Layla,” which reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Unplugged also features a version of Clapton’s 1992 hit “Tears in Heaven,” a few other original tunes, and a variety of blues covers, including renditions of Bo Diddley‘s “Before You Accuse Me,” Son House‘s “Walkin’ Blues,” Robert Johnson‘s “Malted Milk” and Muddy Waters‘ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.”
Clapton’s backing band for the Unplugged show included longtime Rolling Stones touring keyboardist and former Allman Brothers Band member Chuck Leavell, longtime Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers drummer Steve Ferrone and longtime Elton John percussionist Ray Cooper.
At the 1993 Grammy Awards, Clapton won a trio of trophies for Unplugged — Album of the Year; Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male; and Best Rock Song for his acoustic version of “Layla.”
An expanded two-CD/DVD version of Unplugged was released in 2013. It featured a bonus CD with six additional tracks, and a restored version of the concert video, plus more than an hour of unseen footage from the rehearsal for the show.
In 2016, Unplugged was certified Diamond by the RIAA for selling over 10 million copies in the U.S. It’s among the bestselling live albums of all time.
Here’s the full track list of the Unplugged album:
“Before You Accuse Me”
“Tears in Heaven”
“Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”
“Running on Faith”
“San Francisco Bay Blues”
“Rollin’ and Tumblin'”
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