Vintage Video: Willie Nelson on the Premier Episode of Austin City Limits

Forty-one years ago tonight, January 2, 1975, Austin City Limits premiered on PBS with a concert by Willie Nelson.

Taped the previous October, the first airing was not scheduled to be just Nelson. B.W. Stephenson had taped a segment the previous night; however, the footage was not deemed usable so it became an all Nelson show.

ACL, which was first aired as a special, appealed to people because of the concert setting with no production slickness. Remember, this was the era of the big music variety shows such as Tony Orlando and Dawn and Sonny and Cher, all of which not only included music but production numbers, comedy and special guests. With Austin City Limits, it was just the musicians in front of microphones on the stage.

The show was such a success that it was quickly green-lighted as a series, one that is now in its 41st season.

For Nelson, it was the first of over sixteen episodes on which he has performed over the years. He was also an inaugural member of the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame.








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