‘Austin City Limits’ Founder Passes Away at 80

Courtesy of Mark Matson for American-Statesman

Courtesy of Mark Matson for American-Statesman

On April 11th, Bill Arhos, the founder of the popular televised musical production and festival Austin City Limits, passed away in Austin, Texas at the age of 80. Arhos is credited with being a driving force behind the creation of Austin City Limits, working as an executive producer for the show from its pilot episode filmed in 1974. Arhos maintained his position until retiring in 1999. Even after leaving the program, he remained closely involved. In 2014, he was inducted into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame in recognition for his dedication to the show.

Austin City Limits was first broadcast on Austin’s PBS station KLRU-TV, where Arhos had been working since 1961. Their first episode featured a performance by renowned performer Willie Nelson and was shot in October of 1974. By 1975, the show had picked up and was being broadcast on 50 PBS stations. As the program grew in popularity, it was broadcast across the nation and has been heralded for giving birth to several highly influential artists. In 2002, the televised program grew to encompass a live music festival component, the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

At the time of his retirement in 1999, Arhos was acting as the president and general manager of KLRU-TV while still working as executive producer on Austin City Limits. Arhos’ colleague Terry Lickona commented on the producer’s death, reminiscing on the quality of his character and his creativity. “He was a real character, known and loved not just in Austin but throughout the PBS system.” She went on to credit him for being the driving force behind Austin City Limits in the earliest days. “The idea for Austin City Limits was not just his alone, but he brought it to life, and he kept the show going and growing through some difficult times.”

Austin City Limits and Austin City Limits Music Festival have continued growing and expanding since Arhos left in 1999. In 2013, it was decided to expand the festival into a two-week affair due to the festival’s high demand. The festival recruits performers from a wide variety of genres including rock, indie, country, folk, electronic, and hip-hop. The festival takes place in Zilker Park, and the 2015 dates have been announced as October 2nd through 4th and 9th through 11th. Austin City Limits remains on air and has earned the title of the longest running musical program in American history.

FDRMX Eyes: Project Revival is a rock outfit from Tel Aviv, Israel. The band has released a music video for the song “Pain.”

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Mike Nied is a pop culture fiend and writer with a passion for dancing, laughing, and listening to Britney Spears on repeat.