See Willie Nelson’s Rousing Performance on the Pilot Episode of ‘Austin City Limits’


On Jan. 2, 1974, Willie Nelson introduced the world to Austin City Limits, a program that would become a cornerstone in both the evolution of live music and of Austin itself.

The pilot for the PBS series was first pitched as a way to help gain attention to the network’s yearly fundraising drive. The program, which featured a stripped-down visual production with emphasis on stellar audio quality, earned praise from viewers who tuned in for a glimpse of Nelson. At the time, the celebrated singer rarely made television appearances, which made the new program even more buzz-worthy.

Thanks to a solid viewership and an increase in donations after its airing, PBS went on to develop Austin City Limits into a full series. It is now the longest-running music program in America, and has featured some of the best and brightest stars across all genres of music.

The up-close and personal style of production gave viewers the feeling that they were front row center at a small club performance. Austin City Limits was born during a time when the city’s music scene was growing faster than ever. Its long-standing dedication to sharing quality music from the still-burgeoning city has helped make the series so successful.

Austin City Limits is still supplying new episodes, and remains regarded as one of the best cultural exports from Austin – aside from Willie Nelson himself.

WATCH: Did You Ever See The Western That Starred Willie, Waylon, Kris and Cash?

recommended for you

See Willie Nelson’s Rousing Performance on the Pilot Episode of ‘Austin City Limits’