Austin City Limits

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For the music festival, see Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits Logo.svg
Country of origin United States
Running time 60 minutes
Original network PBS
Original release 1976 (1976) – present
External links

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",[1] 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."[2]

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.

Television pilot[edit]

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.[3]


The show inspired the creation of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, an annual live music festival at Zilker Park in Austin.

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[4] 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.[5][6][7][8]


Terry Lickona - Producer of Austin City Limits (2013)

The Executive Producer is Terry Lickona, who joined the program in 1978 during Season 4.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]


Austin City Limits sign at ACL Live - Moody Theater in Austin, TX (2012)

From 1976 through its 2010 season, ACL 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. 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, ACL 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.[17]

40th Season[edit]

On December 2, 2014, in celebration of Austin City Limits' 40th season, a DVD titled Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years will be released.[18]

Austin City Limits is the longest-running music series in American television history.[19]

Theme song[edit]

Beginning in Season 2, 1977, ACL producers made "London Homesick Blues", written by Gary P. Nunn in 1973, and performed by The Lost Gonzo Band, the show's theme song. The show originally used the version performed by Nunn, but the song was rearranged several times starting in the early-1990s.

For Season 7 in 1982, the opening theme music was composed by John Mills.

The current theme, beginning with the show's 30th season, is an original composition by Austin musician Charlie Sexton.

For season 37 through 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.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Austin, TX Official City Website". Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  2. ^ 72nd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2012
  3. ^ "History of ACL | Austin City Limits". 1974-10-14. Retrieved 2015-06-19. 
  4. ^ "POTD: Austin City Limits Store : Texas Travel Guide". 2008-01-18. Retrieved 2012-12-17. 
  5. ^ Hall, Rock. "Austin City Limits Performance Collection Comes to Library and Archives | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". Retrieved 2012-12-17. 
  6. ^ "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gets treasure trove from 'Austin City Limits' - Photos". Retrieved 2012-12-17. 
  7. ^ "‘Austin City Limits’ archives find a permanent home: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame | Pop Culture Blog". 2012-06-21. Retrieved 2012-12-17. 
  8. ^ Maloney, Devon (2012-06-22). "'Austin City Limits' Archives Relocate to Rock Hall Museum | SPIN | Newswire". SPIN. Retrieved 2012-12-17. 
  9. ^ Curtin, Kevin (2014-10-03). "The Poughkeepsie Kid: A night in the life of Austin City Limits ringleader Terry Lickona - Music". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2015-06-19. 
  10. ^ "Terry Lickona Takes ACL Beyond the Austin City Limit | School of Journalism". 2007-04-25. Retrieved 2015-06-19. 
  11. ^ [1] Archived October 15, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Terry Lickona". Roadtrip Nation. Retrieved 2015-06-19. 
  13. ^ "Terry Lickona". Black Fret. Retrieved 2015-06-19. 
  14. ^ "Songwriters to Soundmen - Terry Lickona and Scott Newton - April 2010 | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". Retrieved 2015-06-19. 
  15. ^ Cohen, Jason (2014-09-28). "Austin City Limits, Now 40, Feels Younger Than Ever". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 2015-06-19. 
  16. ^ Zipp, Fred. "Terry Lickona Reflects on 40 Years of 'Austin City Limits'". Retrieved 2015-06-19. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years: Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett, Foo Fighters, Jimmie Vaughan, Alabama Shakes and more., Bill Arhos: Movies & TV". Retrieved 2015-06-19. 
  19. ^ "40-year-old TV show ‘Austin City Limits’ helps make Austin hip | Dallas Morning News". 2014-10-10. Retrieved 2015-06-19. 

External links[edit]