The first Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Induction ceremony brought the show back to its original venue for one night: KLRU's Studio 6A on the University of Texas campus. Before Austin City Limits moved to its current home at The Moody Theater, the walls of Studio 6A absorbed nearly four decades of Austin music history.
Held on Saturday, April 26, the invitation-only event was filled with special performances and standing ovations for performers and honorees. The Hall of Fame’s first class of inductees included Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, famed UT football coach Darrell Royal and show creator Bill Arhos. During the induction, the show’s long-time Executive Producer Terry Lickona called Nelson the heart of Austin City Limits and Arhos the spirit, both helping make the show a musical institution.
The night was so magical it led one audience member to comment, “That was so amazing, I almost forgot to breathe."
With an introduction by Texas native Matthew McConaughey, Nelson kicked off the night with a rousing rendition of "Whiskey River" and was soon joined on stage by Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris. In the 11-song set, the three shared the stage for “Pancho and Lefty,” “On the Road Again” and “I Saw the Light."
Before a short break, Nelson, Royal and Arhos were honored with awards depicting the Austin skyline. Nelson was inducted by McConaughey, Aros by Lickona and Royal by Mack Brown. Brown called Royal a great friend to the show and noted there would be no Austin City Limits without the hard work of the inductees. Surrounded by family, Edith Royal accepted on the coach’s behalf, stressing how much the music meant to Royal, who rarely missed a taping.
After an auction of artwork by Tim Wakefield capturing sound waves of Nelson’s “Whiskey River” and Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy” (each went for $25,000 with proceeds benefiting KLRU) and the induction of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, the stage heated up with a series of impressive guitar solos from artists honoring Vaughan & Double Trouble. Double Trouble’s Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon and Reese Wynans shared the stage with Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Mike Farris, Doyle Bramhall II, Robert Randolph, Eric Zapata and Buddy Guy. Stevie Ray’s brother Jimmie, who is on tour in Australia, appeared in a video honoring his younger brother. You could feel the spirit of Stevie as Randolph and Bramhall tore up “Pride and Joy.” Rounding out a night of incredible music, Nelson, Lovett and Nelson’s son, Lukas, joined everyone on stage for the grand finale, “Texas Flood.”
On this special Hall of Fame night, KLRU once again captured the magic that has made Austin City Limits America’s longest running live music television show. It was a magical Saturday night that led one audience member to comment, “That was so amazing, I almost forgot to breathe."
The 40th anniversary season of Austin City Limits continues to feature the best in music, with tapings including Beck, Valerie June, Ed Sheeran, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, White Denim, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down and Eric Church. For more information, please visit the website.