5 Live Performances Nailed by Musical Dons


Frank Sinatra, Live PerformancesSometimes our musical heroes really nail their live performances. Here are 5 of our favourites from some of the kings of popular music. (And fear not, here are 5 more from some of the queens of popular music.)



If you want to know how to carry a suit and a mic then look no further than Frank Sinatra. Many a karaoke enthusiast could learn a couple of lessons from him.

Frank was the coolest of cats throughout his long career and was one of the archetypal 20th century dons.

The footage on this on is a bit grainy, but we think it’s the performance that captures Frank at the height of his pomp and cool.



If you haven’t seen Elvis’ 1968 ‘Comeback Special’ then stop what you’re doing and go watch it now.

Regarded as a forerunner to the ‘unplugged’ format later popularized by the likes of MTV, the Comeback Special finds Elvis on incredibly humorous and high-spirited form.

When it was filmed, Elvis hadn’t played live for about 7 years and his career was on the down, but on this form you’d never know! We bet he treated himself to a peanut butter, jelly, and bacon sandwich after this!


James Brown

Singer, songwriter, producer, dancer and bandleader: James Brown could do it all.

Although he was know as a bit of a tyrant, he sure knew how to get things done, being cited as one of the founding fathers of soul and having influenced the development of numerous musical genres.

He didn’t write this track but he really made it his own. After the intro draws you in, wait for the funk to drop… and for The Godfather of Soul’s dance moves to kick in at around 1:40. Now THAT is a performance!


Bill Withers

Here is Bill nailing this stripped back version of his most famous song. Apparently, when he wrote it in 1971, Bill was 31 and making toilet seats for 747 jumbo jets in a factory! So, you know, anything is possible!

Also, if you’re not familiar with it, check out the Michael Jackson version of the song from early in his career.


Kurt Cobain

Here is Kurt and Nirvana playing their version of David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World during their amazing MTV Unplugged live performance in 1993.

Kurt looks kinda disinterested and uncomfortable and definitely hits a few wobbly notes, and yet he still slays it.

Recorded less than 6 months before Cobain’s untimely death, their performance also features their versions of songs by The Vaselines, Lead Belly, and the Meat Puppets.