The word became incorporated into the title of a popular MTV series that began in the 1989/1990 US TV season, MTV Unplugged, on which musicians performed acoustic or unplugged versions of their familiar electric repertoire. Many of these performances were subsequently released as albums, often featuring the title Unplugged.
The direct inspiration for the series came in the decade immediately preceding the creation of the MTV program. The catalyst was a series of highly-publicized unplugged performances that occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The first of these was the June 1979 appearances by Pete Townshend at The Secret Policeman's Ball, a series of benefit shows in London for human rights organization Amnesty International at which the usually electric guitar-wielding Townshend was persuaded by benefit producer Martin Lewis to perform his hits Pinball Wizard and Won't Get Fooled Again on acoustic guitar. The performances were widely seen and heard on the 1980 live album and the UK-only movie of the benefit and inspired other rock performers to emulate Townshend.
The first rock artist to perform in an unplugged mode on MTV was Jethro Tull, who, on November 17, 1987 as an acoustic trio (Ian Anderson, Dave Pegg, and Martin Barre), performed a portion of Serenade to a Cuckoo and Skating Away (On the Thin Ice of the New Day) . XTC performed acoustically in May 1989, and Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora performed Livin' on a Prayer and Wanted Dead or Alive during the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards.
Rock band Seether recorded a live & acoustic album at a show in Philadelphia called One Cold Night in 2006. Godsmack performed an all acoustic show, and released it on DVD with their Good Times, Bad Times... Ten Years of Godsmack CD. On the Hope for Haiti Now album, all featured artists performed unplugged during three studio concerts organized by MTV and George Clooney on January 22, 2010. Axl Rose & Guns N' Roses played two surprise unplugged shows in New York in February 2010, and a third in Paris, France September 14, 2010. French director Benjamin Lemaire records since 2008 unplugged sessions like the ones organized by MTV for many websites including Deezer.