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Austin City Limits

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8.1/10 IMDb

Country of origin  United States
Original network  PBS
Network  PBS
Program creator  Bill Arhos
4.7/5 Facebook

7/10 TV

Running time  60 minutes
First episode date  3 January 1976
Theme song  London Homesick Blues
Awards  Peabody Award
Austin City Limits wwwgstaticcomtvthumbtvbanners13201484p13201

Theme music composer  Gary P. Nunn (1977-2004) John Mills (1982-1983) Tequila Mockingbird (2000-2004) Charlie Sexton (2004-2006) Explosions in the Sky (2011-2014) Gary Clark, Jr. (2014-2015)
Opening theme  "London Homesick Blues" (1977-2004) "An Introduction" (2011-2014) "Travis County Line" (2014-2015)
Ending theme  "London Homesick Blues" (1977-2004)
Similar  Live from the Artists Den, Soundstage, Foo Fighters: Sonic Hig, Soul Train, Great Performances

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Austin City Limits (ACL) is an American public television music program recorded live in Austin, Texas, by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member television station KLRU, and broadcast on many PBS stations around the United States. The show helped Austin to become widely known as the "Live Music Capital of the World", and is the only television show to receive the National Medal of Arts, which it was awarded in 2003. It also won a rare institutional Peabody Award in 2011 "for its more than three decades of presenting and preserving eclectic American musical genres." For the first 12 seasons (1976-1987), Austin City Limits was produced by the Southwest Texas Public Broadcasting Council. Beginning in Season 13 (1988), Austin City Limits moved to its current production home at Austin's PBS affiliate KLRU, the Capital of Texas Public Telecommunications Council.


Initially created to celebrate the music of Texas—featuring western swing, Texas blues, Tejano music, progressive country, and rock n' roll—the series has gone on to feature regional, national and international artists performing a wide range of musical styles, including jazz, alternative country, alternative rock, folk music, and jam band.

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Television pilot

The pilot was shot on October 14, 1974, and starred Willie Nelson. (B.W. Stevenson was actually taped the night before, but the recording was deemed unusable.) The deliberate lack of production slickness and attention to audio detail pleased even the notoriously TV-shy Nelson, and ACL creator Bill Arhos pitched the pilot to PBS as part of its 1975 pledge drive. The show’s success as a fundraiser was enough for Arhos to get ACL green-lighted as a series.


The show inspired the creation of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, an annual live music festival at Zilker Park in Austin. In 1982, Bill Arhos returned to Austin City Limits as the executive producer starting in Season 7, and he stayed until his retirement in Season 24 (1999). In 2015, Arhos died at the age of 80. In 2014, he was inducted into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame. Some of the performances from Austin City Limits have been released as CDs and DVDs in the Live from Austin, TX series. Full episodes can also be viewed online at the show's official website. There is an Austin City Limits store at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport.

On June 21, 2012, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, announced that nearly forty years of Austin City Limits footage will be digitally archived "in perpetuity" at the Museum's new Library and Archives; recordings from more than 800 live performances will be made available to the public.

MTV Live (formerly Palladia HD) acquired rerun rights to the series in 2016. In 2002, older episodes are carried by CMT, as part of their "Best of Austin City Limits" series.


The executive producer of Austin City Limits is Terry Lickona, who joined the program in 1979 during Season 4, where he started off as a producer, now he's currently the executive producer. The first director of Austin City Limits was Bruce Scafe, who was the director for the show's first two seasons in 1976 and 1977; Charles Vaughn took over as producer-director in Season 3 (1978); Clark Santee took over as director in Season 4 (1979); Allan Muir took over as director in Season 5 (1980), and he continued until Season 7 (1982); Gary Menotti replaced Allan Muir as the show's current director starting in Season 8 (1983).


For the first 36 seasons, Austin City Limits was recorded in Studio 6A in the Communications Building B on the University of Texas at Austin campus, on a stage featuring a mock skyline of Austin in the background, which was introduced in Season 7 (1982). The studio had a seating capacity of approximately 800, but due to limited access to fire exits the audience size was limited to 300. In 2010, the show and its original studio were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A plaque near the entrance to Communications Building B commemorating the occasion proclaims Austin City Limits as the "longest running music show in the history of American television." On February 26, 2011, Austin City Limits held its first taping in its new purpose-built Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater (ACL Live) and studio in downtown Austin's Block 21. The additional seating capacity is used for an estimated 100 concerts and 100 private events per year at the venue.

40th season

On December 2, 2014, in celebration of Austin City Limits' 40th season, a DVD titled Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years will be released.

Austin City Limits is the longest-running music series in American television history.

Theme song

In Season 1 of Austin City Limits in 1976, each episode begins with the soundcheck that is run by producer Paul Bosner. He then used it as the audio to accompany each episode's 2 minute opening title sequence. Beginning with Season 2 in 1977, the soundcheck was replaced by Gary P. Nunn's "London Homesick Blues", which was introduced as the show's theme song. The song was written by Gary P. Nunn, and performed by The Lost Gonzo Band. So director Bruce Scafe used the song from the last episode of Season 1 in 1976 entitled "The Lost Gonzo Band followed by Jerry Jeff Walker". He then used it as the audio to accompany those landscape and nightclub shots. "London Homesick Blues" will remain in use as the show's theme song until Season 29. From Season 7 in 1982 to Season 8 in 1983, the opening theme music was composed by Austin musician John Mills. From Season 25 to Season 29, the opening theme music was arranged by Austin musician Tequila Mockingbird. From Season 30 (2004-2005) to Season 32 (2006-2007), the opening theme music was composed by Austin musician Charlie Sexton. From Season 37 to Season 39, opening theme music was "An Introduction", written and performed by Explosions in the Sky. The opening sequence was created by Jonathan Jackson. For Season 40, "Travis County Line" by Gary Clark Jr. became the theme. In Season 41, a new theme music was introduced.


Austin City Limits Wikipedia