Austin City Limits

Last updated
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits Logo.svg
Created byBill Arhos
Paul Bosner
Bruce Scafe
Directed byBruce Scafe (1976–77)
Charles Vaughn (1978)
Clark Santee (1979)
Allan Muir (1980–82)
Gary Menotti (1983–present)
Narrated byTerry Lickona (1979–present)
Theme music composer Gary P. Nunn (1977–2004)
John Mills (1982–98)
Tequila Mockingbird (2000–2004)
Charlie Sexton (2004–07)
Explosions in the Sky (2011–14)
Gary Clark, Jr. (2014–15)
Opening theme"London Homesick Blues" (1977–2004)
"An Introduction" (2011–14)
"Travis County Line" (2014–15)
Ending theme"London Homesick Blues" (1977–2004)
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes300+
Running time60 minutes
Original network PBS
Picture format 480i SDTV (1976–2004)
720p HDTV (2004–07)
1080i HDTV (2007–present)
Original releaseJanuary 3, 1976 (1976-01-03) 
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] For the first 12 seasons (1976–87), 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. The show was created in 1974 by Bill Arhos, Bruce Scafe, and Paul Bosner.

Austin, Texas Capital of Texas

Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States and the 4th-most populous city in Texas. It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States, the second most populous state capital after Phoenix, Arizona, and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2017 estimate, Austin had a population of 950,715 up from 790,491 at the 2010 census. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,115,827 as of July 1, 2017. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.


KLRU, virtual channel 18, is a PBS member television station licensed to Austin, Texas, United States. The station is owned by the Capital of Texas Public Telecommunications Council. KLRU's studios are located on Guadalupe and Dean Keeton streets at the University of Texas at Austin, and its transmitter is located in the West Austin Antenna Farm in unincorporated Travis County. In addition to airing program content from PBS, it produces original programming including the national music series Austin City Limits.

Peabody Award international awards for excellence in radio and television

The George Foster Peabody Awards program, named for the American businessman and philanthropist George Peabody, honor the most powerful, enlightening, and invigorating stories in television, radio, and online media. Programs are recognized in seven categories: news, entertainment, documentaries, children's programming, education, interactive programming, and public service. Peabody Award winners include radio and television stations, networks, online media, producing organizations, and individuals from around the world.


Beginning in season 15 (1990), Austin City Limits began broadcasting in Dolby Surround, and continued until season 24 (1999). Beginning in season 33 (2007–08), the show began broadcasting in widescreen HDTV 1080i. From 1976 to 2004 (seasons 1-29), the show was broadcast in SDTV 480i. From 2004 to 2007 (seasons 30-32), the show was broadcast in HDTV 720p.


Widescreen images are images that are displayed within a set of aspect ratios used in film, television and computer screens. In film, a widescreen film is any film image with a width-to-height aspect ratio greater than the standard 1.37:1 Academy aspect ratio provided by 35mm film.

1080i is an abbreviation referring to a combination of frame resolution and scan type, used in high-definition television (HDTV) and high-definition video. The number "1080" refers to the number of horizontal lines on the screen. The "i" is an abbreviation for "interlaced"; this indicates that only the odd lines, then the even lines of each frame are drawn alternately, so that only half the number of actual image frames are used to produce video. A related display resolution is 1080p, which also has 1080 lines of resolution; the "p" refers to progressive scan, which indicates that the lines of resolution for each frame are "drawn" in on the screen sequence.

480i standard-definition video mode

480i is a shorthand name for the video mode used for standard-definition analog or digital television in Caribbean, Myanmar, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Laos, Western Sahara, and most of the Americas. The 480 identifies a vertical resolution of 480 lines, and the i identifies it as an interlaced resolution. The field rate, which is 60 Hz, is sometimes included when identifying the video mode, i.e. 480i60; another notation, endorsed by both the International Telecommunication Union in BT.601 and SMPTE in SMPTE 259M, includes the frame rate, as in 480i/30. The other common standard, used in the other parts of the world, is 576i.


Each episode ran for 60 minutes in length, and typically consisted of two performances in a half-hour format, as well as one performance in a one-hour format, along with an interview from the day's artist. Beginning in season 30 (2003-2004) and continuing into today, Lickona would ask the day's artist a question. Beginning in season 10 (1985), Austin City Limits began taping outdoors. The show was originally taped in its original home at KLRU's Studio 6A during the first 36 seasons (1976-2011). Beginning in season 37 (2011-2012), the show moved to its current home at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater. During season 23 (1998), the show adopted the tagline "All American Music", and "Where Music Lives" in season 24 (1999).

Songwriters Special

Beginning in season 5 (1980), Austin City Limits introduced its Songwriters Special, which remained in use until season 34 (2008-2009). The first Songwriters Special teamed up with Willie Nelson, Floyd Tillman, Hank Cochran, Red Lane, Whitey Shafer, and Sonny Throckmorton.

Willie Nelson American country music singer-songwriter

Willie Hugh Nelson is an American musician, singer, songwriter, author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie (1973), combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger (1975) and Stardust (1978), made Nelson one of the most recognized artists in country music. He was one of the main figures of outlaw country, a subgenre of country music that developed in the late 1960s as a reaction to the conservative restrictions of the Nashville sound. Nelson has acted in over 30 films, co-authored several books, and has been involved in activism for the use of biofuels and the legalization of marijuana.

Floyd Tillman was an American country musician who, in the 1930s and 1940s, helped create the Western swing and honky tonk genres. Tillman was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1984.

Hank Cochran American country musician

Garland Perry "Hank" Cochran was an American country music singer and songwriter. Starting during the 1960s, Cochran was a prolific songwriter in the genre, including major hits by Patsy Cline, Ray Price, Eddy Arnold and others. Cochran was also a recording artist between 1962 and 1980, scoring seven times on the Billboard country music charts, with his greatest solo success being the No. 20 "Sally Was a Good Old Girl." In 2014, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Television pilot

The pilot episode featuring Willie Nelson, which was taped on October 17, 1974, and aired on March 22, 1975, but the audience was small. And the quality of the audio and video was so bad, that the pilot episode was never aired again. Lone Star Brewing Company will have to fund the show, and premiered nationally on January 3, 1976, with Asleep at the Wheel, and The Texas Playboys.

Lone Star Brewing Company

The Lone Star Brewery, built in 1884, was the first large mechanized brewery in Texas. Adolphus Busch, of Anheuser-Busch, founded it along with a group of San Antonio businessmen. The castle-like building now houses the San Antonio Museum of Art. Lone Star beer was the company's main brand. It was marketed as "The National Beer of Texas." The Lone Star name is now owned by Pabst Brewing Company. Production of Lone Star is currently contracted out to Miller Brewing Company in Fort Worth. The Lone Star name is used in the Philippines under license to Asia Brewery for a brand of light beer.

Asleep at the Wheel American country music group

Asleep at the Wheel is an American country music group that was formed in Paw Paw, West Virginia and is based in Austin, Texas. The band has won nine Grammy Awards since their 1970 inception, released over twenty albums, and has charted more than 20 singles on the Billboard country charts. Their highest-charting single, "The Letter That Johnny Walker Read", peaked at No. 10 in 1975.


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 [3] at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport.

Austin City Limits Music Festival annual music festival held in Zilker Park in Austin, Texas

The Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival is an annual music festival held in Zilker Park in Austin, Texas on two consecutive three-day weekends. Inspired by the KLRU/PBS music series of the same name, the festival is produced by Austin-based company C3 Presents, which also produces Lollapalooza. The reputation of the ACL television show helped contribute to the success of the first festival.

Zilker Park Historic urban park in Austin, Texas

Zilker Metropolitan Park is a recreational area in south Austin, Texas at the juncture of Barton Creek and the Colorado River that comprises over 350 acres (142 ha) of publicly owned land. It is named after its benefactor, Andrew Jackson Zilker, who donated the land to the city in 1917. The land was developed into a park during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Today the park serves as a hub for many recreational activities and the hike and bike trail around Lady Bird Lake, both of which run next to the park. The large size of the park makes it a capable venue for large-scale events such as the Austin City Limits Music Festival and the Zilker Park Kite Festival. The park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on 1997.

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

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Hall of fame located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, recognizes and archives the history of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers, and other notable figures who have had some major influence on the development of rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was established on April 20, 1983, by Atlantic Records founder and chairman Ahmet Ertegun. In 1986, Cleveland was chosen as the Hall of Fame's permanent home.

Cleveland City in Ohio

Cleveland is a major city in the U.S. state of Ohio, and the county seat of Cuyahoga County. The city proper has a population of 385,525, making it the 51st-largest city in the United States, and the second-largest city in Ohio. Greater Cleveland is ranked as the 32nd-largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with 2,055,612 people in 2016. The city anchors the Cleveland–Akron–Canton Combined Statistical Area, which had a population of 3,515,646 in 2010 and is ranked 15th in the United States.

Ohio State of the United States of America

Ohio is a Midwestern state in the Great Lakes region of the United States. Of the fifty states, it is the 34th largest by area, the seventh most populous, and the tenth most densely populated. The state's capital and largest city is Columbus.


MTV Live (formerly Palladia HD) acquired rerun rights to the series in 2016 under the moniker Best of Austin City Limits. [8] From 2002 to 2003, CMT repackaged several country music-themed episodes under the moniker Best of Austin City Limits. When Austin City Limits aired on CMT, episodes ran for 42 minutes to make room for commercials, and began with an introduction by Charlie Robison, and Tara McNamara. From 1992 to 1993, TNN repackaged older Austin City Limits performers under the moniker Austin Encore. The program also aired on CMT Canada from 1998 to 2002.


Terry Lickona - Producer of Austin City Limits (January 25, 1979-present) Terry Lacona ACL.JPG
Terry Lickona – Producer of Austin City Limits (January 25, 1979–present)

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. [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] 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).


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

For the first 36 seasons, Austin City Limits was taped in its original home at 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. [17]

40th season

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

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

Hall of Fame

Established as part of the 40th anniversary of Austin City Limits in 2014 [20] .


For the first 36 seasons, Austin City Limits was taped in Studio 6A with sets designed by Augie Kymmel and Robert Sertner. The first one is a dark room, the second was red and blue lights, the third one were horse fences, and finally, the Austin skyline backdrop. The show moved to the Moody Theater in season 37 (2011–12).

Theme song

In season 1, a soundcheck is run by producer Paul Bosner. From 1977 to 2004 (seasons 2–29), Austin City Limits used Gary P. Nunn's "London Homesick Blues" as the show's theme song. From 1982 to 1998 (seasons 7–23), the opening theme music was performed by John Mills. From 2000 to 2004 (seasons 25–29), the opening theme music was arranged by Tequila Mockingbird. From 2004 to 2007 (seasons 30–32), the opening theme music was composed by Austin musician Charlie Sexton. From 2011 to 2014 (seasons 37–39), the opening theme music was "An Introduction", written and performed by Explosions in the Sky. The opening sequence was created by Jonathan Jackson. [21] For season 40, "Travis County Line" by Austin native Gary Clark Jr. became the theme. In season 41, a new theme music was introduced. For seasons 43-44, "History of Women" by The Black Angels became the theme.



See also

Related Research Articles

WWE SmackDown, also referred to as SmackDown Live or simply SmackDown, is a professional wrestling television program that debuted on April 29, 1999. The show's name also refers to the SmackDown brand, to which WWE employees are assigned to work and perform.

Marcia Ball American blues singer and pianist

Marcia Ball is an American blues singer and pianist raised in Vinton, Louisiana.

Music of Austin, Texas: Austin's official motto is the "Live Music Capital of the World" because on any given night, one can find over one hundred venues showcasing a wide variety of free - live music performances. Austin is also famed for the SXSW and the Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festivals which showcase an eclectic array of live musical talent from across the globe. The greatest concentration of music venues in Austin are located around 6th Street, the Warehouse District, Downtown, Central East Austin, South Congress, the Red River District, the University of Texas, South Lamar, and South Austin.

Terry Funk American professional wrestler and actor

Terrence Funk is an American semi-retired professional wrestler and actor. Funk is known for the longevity of his career – which has spanned more than 50 years and includes multiple short-lived retirements – and the influential hardcore wrestling style he pioneered in the latter part of his career.

<i>Live from Austin, TX</i> (Richard Thompson album) live album by Richard Thompson

Live from Austin, TX is a live album by Richard Thompson, recorded in 2001 and released in 2005 on CD and DVD.

The Biscuit Brothers television series

The Biscuit Brothers is a half-hour Emmy-award winning public television program produced in Austin, Texas. It first went on the air in Austin, Texas in 2004 and then premiered nationwide in 2005. The show uses a mixture of live-action, puppetry, and animation to teach music and cultural communication through music to children and their families.

MTV Live (TV network) American television network

MTV Live is an American pay television network that is owned by Viacom. The channel, which exclusively broadcasts in 1080i high definition, broadcasts music videos and music-related programming from Viacom-owned networks MTV, MTV Classic, VH1 and CMT, along with other concert and live music programming from outside producers.

<i>Jail</i> (TV series) TV series

Jail is a reality television series that follows suspected criminals from booking through incarceration. The series was created and produced by John Langley and his son, Morgan Langley, through their Langley television and film Productions company who also produce Cops.

C3 Presents is a concert promotion, event production and artist management company based out of Austin, Texas. C3 also produces several iconic multi-day festivals including Austin City Limits Music Festival in Texas, Voodoo Music + Arts Experience in New Orleans, and Lollapalooza in Chicago along with its six international editions.

Johnny Gimble American musician

John Paul Gimble was an American country musician associated with Western swing. Gimble was considered one of the most important fiddlers in the genre. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 in the early influences category as a member of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.

Band of Heathens band that plays Americana

The Band of Heathens are an American rock and roll band from Austin, Texas, United States.

<i>Live from Austin Texas</i> (Widespread Panic album) album

Live from Austin TX is a performance by Athens, Georgia's Widespread Panic that came from the Austin City Limits vaults. The DVD is part of the Austin City Limits concert series that features previously unreleased performances from the television show. The finished product is limited selection of eleven songs that have been re-mixed and remastered in stereo and 5.1 surround sound. The original performance was recorded on October 31, 2000.


Wiretree is an American indie pop/indie rock band from Austin, Texas. Initially a solo project based on Kevin Peroni's homemade recordings, Wiretree now currently also includes Joshua Kaplan on guitar, Gregory White on guitar, Rachel Peroni on bass and Daniel Jones on drums. Their music is influenced by British rock, indie, singer songwriter, jazz with home-based recording and song structures. The band played one of the largest festivals in China, The Strawberry Festival in the Spring of 2013. Their fourth album, "Get Up" was released 2013.

The Bright Light Social Hour

The Bright Light Social Hour is an American psychedelic rock band from Austin, Texas. The band is composed of Jackie O'Brien on bass guitar and vocals, Curtis Roush on guitar and vocals, Edward Braillif on synthesizers and guitar, and Joseph Mirasole on drums.

Block 21 is a 300-million-dollar mixed-use development adjacent to the Second Street District of Downtown Austin, Texas. Austin's fifth-tallest building, the W Austin Hotel and Residences and ACL Live at The Moody Theater, the live venue where Austin City Limits is recorded, are located here, as well as 53,000 square feet (4,900 m2) of shops, restaurants and office space. It has been lauded for its eco-friendliness.

<i>Lucha Underground</i> American professional wrestling promotion and TV series

Lucha Underground is an American professional wrestling promotion and serial drama television series owned and produced by United Artists Media Group. The weekly series airs in English on the El Rey Network and previously aired in Spanish on UniMás. The series features wrestlers from the American independent circuit and Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide (AAA), one of the biggest wrestling promotions in Mexico. AAA also owns a percentage of Lucha Underground.

What Did I Do? / God as My Witness single by Foo Fighters

"What Did I Do?/God as My Witness" is a song by the American rock band Foo Fighters and is the fourth single from their eighth studio album Sonic Highways. The song was released on November 6, 2014.

The Nightowls American soul/R&B band

The Nightowls are an American musical group from Austin, Texas, whose debut album Good As Gold was named Top 10 of the 2014 Austin Music Awards Albums of the Year. Their sound combines R&B, Funk and soul music. Lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Harkrider formed The Nightowls in 2011. His song "Nobody Ever Wants to Leave" was commissioned in 2009 by The Austin Convention and Visitor’s Bureau as Austin’s official theme song. The Nightowls have released three full-length albums and two EP’s. Two of which were recorded at the iconic Soul/R&B studios - FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and Royal Studios in Memphis, Tennessee.


  1. "Austin, TX Official City Website" . Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  2. 72nd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2012
  3. "POTD: Austin City Limits Store : Texas Travel Guide". 2008-01-18. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
  4. 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.
  5. "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gets treasure trove from 'Austin City Limits' – Photos". Retrieved 2012-12-17.
  6. "'Austin City Limits' archives find a permanent home: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame | Pop Culture Blog". 2012-06-21. Archived from the original on 2012-08-26. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
  7. Maloney, Devon (2012-06-22). "'Austin City Limits' Archives Relocate to Rock Hall Museum | SPIN | Newswire". SPIN. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
  8. "Palladia will rebrand as MTV Live 2/1/16". Comcast Cable official forum posting. 20 January 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  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. Archived October 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  12. "Terry Lickona". Roadtrip Nation. Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  13. "Terry Lickona". Black Fret. Archived from the original on 2015-05-03. 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. "Venue - ACL Live - Austin, Texas".
  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.
  20. "Inductees - Austin City Limits Hall of Fame".
  21. "Portfolio – Jonathan H Jackson".