Austin City Limits neon sign, 1979

“I’ll be all right as long as there’s light from a neon moon”

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by Jenny Cobb, Asociate Curator of Exhibitions

Since the taping of its pilot episode on October 14, 1974, Austin City Limits has become the longest-running music program in American television history.

Following a call from PBS for original programming from member stations, Austin KLRU (then KLRN) program director Bill Arhos, producer Paul Bosner, and director Bruce Scafe came up with an idea for a program that would showcase Austin’s diverse mix of country, blues, folk, and psychedelia music.

Terry Lickona, executive producer for Austin City Limits, described this red, white, and blue neon sign as “specifically commissioned, designed, and built by a local neon artist to be used in the opening sequence” of the series. Used only during the fourth season, the sign represented a redesign of the ACL logo and was used for a press party at the Soap Creek Saloon to announce the new season and also as a prop in a music club on Guadalupe. 

Since then, the series has gone on to feature regional, national, and international acts performing a wide range of musical styles, hosting everyone from Willie Nelson to B.B. King to the Foo Fighters. The program inspired the creation of the Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2002, earned a Presidential Medal of Arts in 2003, was designated an official Rock and Roll Landmark in 2010 by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and received a Peabody Award in 2011. More than 40 years later, Austin City Limits has become a music icon and has helped build Austin's reputation as the "Live Music Capital of the World."

The newly-installed Austin City Limits Theater on the Bullock Museum's third floor highlights the music and musicians that performed for the innovative PBS series. The theater features a selection of artifacts from ACL and a dynamic, large-screen media experience that begins with the 1974 pilot featuring Willie Nelson and continues through the 2014 ACL season.

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

Austin City Limits neon sign, 1979 Artifact from Austin, Texas
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