Austin City Limits
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 (1976–87), 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, who died in 2015 at the age of 80.
|Austin City Limits|
|Created by||Bill Arhos|
|Directed by||Bruce Scafe (1976–77)
Charles Vaughn (1978)
Clark Santee (1979)
Allan Muir (1980–82)
Gary Menotti (1983–present)
|Narrated by||Terry 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 origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||300+|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Picture format||480i SDTV (1976–2004)
720i HDTV (2004–07)
1080i HDTV (2007–present)
|Original release||January 3, 1976– present|
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 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 720i.
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. Beginning in season 10 (1985), Austin City Limits began taping performances outside the studio.
The pilot was shot on October 17, 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, Lead Marketer Ken Waggoner, 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.
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 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.
On December 2, 2014, in celebration of Austin City Limits' 40th season, a DVD titled Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years was released.
Austin City Limits is the longest-running music series in American television history.
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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).
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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. For season 40, "Travis County Line" by Gary Clark Jr. became the theme. In season 41, a new theme music was introduced.
- 1974: The pilot episode of Austin City Limits features Willie Nelson.
- 1976: Season 1 premieres. Consisting of 15 episodes.
- 1977: Starting in Season 2, Gary P. Nunn's "London Homesick Blues" became the show's theme song, and it remained in use until Season 29 (2003-2004).
- 1978: Season 3 premieres. First season to have 13 episodes.
- 1979: Starting in Season 4, Terry Lickona takes over as producer, now he's currently the executive producer.
- 1980: Season 5 premieres. Allan Muir takes over as director, while Scott Newton, Bill Celaya, and Dean Rabourn join the staff.
- 1981: Season 6 premieres. The first Austin City Limits special "Swingin' over the Rainbow" airs.
- 1982: Season 7 premieres. The Austin skyline backdrop was introduced. John Mills composed the opening theme.
- 1983: Starting in Season 8, Gary Menotti takes over as director.
- 1984: Season 9 premieres. PBS premieres "Country Memories".
- 1985: Austin City Limits celebrated its 10th anniversary.
- 1986: Season 11 premieres.
- 1987: Season 12 premieres. This is the last season to be produced by the Southwest Texas Public Broadcasting Council.
- 1988: Season 13 premieres. The show is now currently produced by KLRU-TV, The Capital of Texas Public Telecommunications Council.
- 1989: Season 14 premieres.
- 1990: Austin City Limits celebrated its 15th anniversary. The show is now presented in Dolby Surround.
- 1991: Season 16 premieres.
- 1992: Season 17 premieres.
- 1993: Season 18 premieres.
- 1994: Season 19 premieres.
- 1995: Austin City Limits celebrated its 20th anniversary.
- 1996: Season 21 premieres.
- 1997: Season 22 premieres.
- 1998: Season 23 premieres.
- 1999: Season 24 premieres.
- 2000: Austin City Limits celebrated its 25th anniversary. Season 26 premieres.
- 2001: Season 27 premieres.
- 2002: Season 28 premieres. The Austin City Limits Music Festival was created.
- 2003: Season 29 premieres. This is the last season to use the show's theme song "London Homesick Blues".
- 2004: Austin City Limits celebrated its 30th anniversary.
- 2005: Season 31 premieres.
- 2006: Season 32 premieres.
- 2007: Season 33 premieres.
- 2008: Season 34 premieres.
- 2009: Austin City Limits celebrated its 35th anniversary.
- 2010: Season 36 premieres. This is the last season to be taped in its original home at KLRU's Studio 6A.
- 2011: Season 37 premieres. The show moved to its current home at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater.
- 2012: Season 38 premieres.
- 2013: Season 39 premieres.
- 2014: Austin City Limits celebrated its 40th anniversary. The Austin City Limits Hall of Fame was created.
- 2015: Season 41 premieres.
- 2016: Season 42 premieres.
- 2017: Season 43 premieres.
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- 72nd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2012
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