Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years

Two-Hour Primetime 40th Anniversary Special Premieres October 3rd on PBS

Star-Studded Broadcast Features Jeff Bridges, Sheryl Crow, MatthewMcConaughey, Willie Nelson, Foo Fighters, Bonnie Raitt, Alabama Shakes, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Buddy Guy, Lyle Lovett, Gary Clark Jr., Kenny Wayne Shepherd & many more


The landmark PBS series Austin City Limits (ACL) highlights four decades as a music institution with Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years, a primetime special honoring the program's milestone 40th anniversary, airing Friday, October 3rd, 9-11pm ET on PBS Arts Fall Festival. With guest hosts Jeff Bridges,Sheryl Crow and Matthew McConaughey, the two-hour broadcast features memorable moments from the trailblazing show's remarkable run, while the brightest stars in the series' history return to the ACL stage for dream duets and choice collaborations. Ready to write the next chapter in its storied history,

ACL’s Season 40 premieres on October 4th with an epic hour from an American original, musician/songwriter Beck.

An all-star lineup of ACL royalty pays tribute to the show's enduring legacy with unforgettable music performances in Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years. Highlights of the special include the show opener as Bonnie RaittAlabama Shakes' Brittany HowardJimmie Vaughan and Gary Clark Jr. team up for the Sam & Dave classic “Wrap It Up”. Incredible pairings include ACL Hall of Fame legend Willie Nelson andEmmylou Harris on the Nelson-penned classic “Crazy” and Kris Kristofferson andSheryl Crow's moving take on his signature “Me and Bobby McGee”. The FooFighters honor ACL with a wild rendition of Texas cult hero Roky Erickson's "Two Headed Dog," recorded at the show's original television studio especially for the occasion. Host Jeff Bridges performs the late singer-songwriter Stephen Bruton's song “What A Little Bit of Love Can Do” as a tribute to the influential Austin musician who inspired Bridges’ Oscar-winning portrayal in Crazy Heart.  Local legends Joe Ely andRobert Earl Keen showcase their troubadour roots and significance to the Austin music scene. Breakout artists and ACL alumni Alabama Shakes and Gary Clark Jr.give blistering performances that forecast the future of the series. Blues titan Buddy Guy brings it all home with an electrifying take on his “Mary Had A Little Lamb”.  Thespecial comes to a close with an all-star reading of two Lone Star classics—a stellar lineup of guitar slingers blaze through the Stevie Ray Vaughan standard “Texas Flood” and the biggest names in music trade verses on the Buddy Holly classic “Not Fade Away", as ACL embraces its past and hints at what is to come.

"This is a huge milestone for us,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “and this show captures the essence of what Austin City Limits is all about. We set the bar high for this celebration, and we exceeded it! The lineup of talent speaks volumes about the respect that artists have for ACL.”

Artists performing on the special are: Alabama Shakes, Doyle Bramhall II, Jeff Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Sheryl Crow, Double Trouble, Joe Ely, Mike Farris,Foo Fighters, GrupoFantasma, Buddy Guy, Emmylou Harris, Robert Earl Keen, Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Randolph, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jimmie Vaughan.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years was taped at ACL Live at the Moody Theater, and the program's original television studio, Austin PBS station KLRU's Studio 6A.

Austin City Limits (ACL) is the longest-running music series in American television history and remains the only TV series to be awarded the National Medal of Arts. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the pilot episode taped in 1974 with Willie Nelson. Since its inception, the pioneering music series has become an institution that's helpedsecure Austin's reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World. The historic KLRU Studio 6A, home to 36 years of ACL concerts, has been designated an official Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark. In 2011, ACL moved to the new venue ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. ACL received a rare institutional Peabody Award for excellence and outstanding achievement in 2012.


Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years setlist:

Bonnie Raitt, Brittany Howard, Jimmie Vaughan & Gary Clark Jr. | “Wrap It Up”

Bonnie Raitt | “Your Good Thing (Is About to End)”

Kris Kristofferson & Sheryl Crow | “Me and Bobby McGee”

Alabama Shakes | “Gimme All Your Love”

Jeff Bridges | “What A Little Bit of Love Can Do”

Willie Nelson | “Whiskey River”

Willie Nelson & Lyle Lovett “Funny How Time Slips Away”

Willie Nelson & Emmylou Harris | “Crazy”

Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris & Lyle Lovett | “On the Road Again”

Robert Earl Keen & Joe Ely | “The Road Goes On Forever”

Gary Clark Jr. | “Bright Lights”

Foo Fighters | “Two Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer)”

Sheryl Crow |“Can't Cry Anymore”

Doyle Bramhall & Sheryl Crow | “I'm Leaving”

GrupoFantasma | “Mulato

Jimmie Vaughan & Bonnie Raitt | “The Pleasure's All Mine”

Kenny Wayne Shepherd & Mike Farris | “House Is Rockin'”

Robert Randolph “Pride and Joy”

Buddy Guy | “Mary Had A Little Lamb”

All-Star Finale | “Texas Flood”

All-Star Finale | “Not Fade Away”

ACL is produced by KLRU-TV and funding is provided in part by Budweiser, the Austin Convention Center Department, Dell and HomeAway. Additional funding is provided by the Friends of Austin City Limits. Learn more about Austin City Limits, programming and history at


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.