April 26

There Would Be No Austin City Limits Without Willie Nelson


There Would Be No Austin City Limits Without Willie Nelson 1
Willie Nelson (wideopencountry.com)

Willie Nelson creates another record being the very first musician to perform on Austin City Limits (ACL). Premiered in 1974, ACL is now heading into its 44th season this coming June.  records say that it is the longest-running television music program in the U.S.  ACL means a lot for Nelson. Four years ago, he was inducted into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame by fellow Texan Matthew McConaughey for the institution’s inaugural class.  McConaughey told the audience as he presented the honor:

“There would be no Austin City Limits without Willie Nelson.” 

Prominent personalities joined Nelson in the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class during that day. They were Stevie Ray, Vaughan and Double Trouble, Bill Arhos, and University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal. These respected people are the show’s original inspirations.

The Austin City Limits

ACL is holds the record for being the only television show to receive the Presidential Medal of the Arts.  Not only that, time Magazine listed it as one of the 10 most influential music programs of all time. The audience just can’t get enough of the various performances that filled the show. The production featured different musical styles and genres. To add with the fun, the show invites different personalities to host the show like  Willie Nelson, BB King, and Foo Fighters.

There Would Be No Austin City Limits Without Willie Nelson 2
(Austin City Limits) i.ytimg.com

Going back to the beginning

The ACL started back in 1974.  The pilot episode premiered on October 17, 1974. It starred Willie Nelson, who was just starting to be discovered as an American music figure.  Additionally, the deliberate lack of production, slickness, and attention to audio detail pleased even the notoriously TV-shy Nelson. As a result, the success of the show moved ACL to turn into a series. And so the odyssey began.

To complete our ACL recollection, here’s Willie Nelson’s performance during the pilot episode of the show.


Austin City Limits, Hall of Fame, McConaughey, Willie Nelson

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