A Guide to the Austin City Limits Collection, 1987, 1991-2000
Austin City Limits, a television program of concert performances featuring uniquely American styles of music was founded in 1974 by PBS affiliate KLRN–TV (later KLRU–TV) in Austin and was carried by hundreds of stations nationwide. The program has showcased performers such as Jimmy Buffett, Rosanne Cash, Ray Charles, Leonard Cohen, B. B. King, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Bonnie Raitt, George Strait, and Tanya Tucker. The show's success was credited with contributing to the rise of several major country performers and coincided with the growing popularity of country music.
After losing Budweiser as an underwriter in 1990, Austin City Limits faced a declining PBS budget and network demands that the series raise more than a quarter of its own funding. Performers on the show have always been paid on a union scale. In 2003, advertising its content as "live music, pure and simple," the show was sponsored by such companies as Chevrolet and Michelob. By its nineteenth network season (1993), Austin City Limits was focusing less on mainstream country music and more on songwriters and the "new folk movement," and had introduced a variety of new formats to supplement its traditional stage-show settings.
Austin City Limits produced an enormously successful "Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan" in 1995, which featured B. B. King, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, and others. The show also filmed a memorable tribute to Townes Van Zandt in late 1997 that included Willie Nelson, Guy Clark, Lyle Lovett, and Nanci Griffith. In 2000, after facing competition from other music programming on public television such as New York City's Sessions in West 54th, producers made the decision to offer Austin City Limits to PBS affiliates free of charge. By 2003 "Austin City Limits" was in its twenty-eighth season and had featured hundreds of artists performing in such genres as zydeco and Tejano, in addition to its foundation of folk–rock–country–bluegrass. Longtime producer and program director Terry Lickona had been with the show since the mid-1970s.
Materials include biographies, promotional material, and newspaper clippings relating to the Austin City Limits television program.
Austin City Limits Collection, 1987, 1991-2000, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
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