The original 'Austin City Limits' skyline is being sold at auction
Since the mid-1970s, "Austin City Limits" has presented a parade of American music legends and rising stars to national television audiences via PBS. But there's one visual element that's even more associated with the show than its performers: the city skyline.
On Monday, "ACL" commenced an online auction to sell off the 20 panels that combined to create the iconic backdrop, which has evolved over the years to reflect Austin's growth. Proceeds will help pay for Austin PBS's impending move from its longtime location on the University of Texas campus to new facilities at Austin Community College's Highland Campus.
Bids can be made online at web.austinpbs.org/ACLbackdrop. The auction will conclude at 10 a.m. July 22.
After the first day, bids for panels featuring iconic structures such as the Capitol building and the University of Texas Tower had risen above $2,000. Panels that consist mainly of twinkling city lights are starting at $500.
The skyline backdrop was added for the show's seventh season in 1982. A new skyline was constructed when "Austin City Limits" moved downtown to ACL Live in 2011.
Its rendering is realistic enough that many performers over the years have commented that they were surprised when they arrived at the venue and found that the show wasn't taped outside.
The original skyline was based on a photo taken by official "Austin City Limits" photographer Scott Newton in 1980 from the St. Edward's University campus in south Austin. "Made of wood, wires and Christmas lights, the set was designed, constructed and installed by designer Augie Kymmel," a representative for the show noted.
The skyline will remain in place for two final shows in Studio 6A. Country superstar Garth Brooks will play the room July 20-21, a pair of sold-out, high-dollar fundraisers that also will help with the TV station's moving expenses.
In 2014, "Austin City Limits" returned to Studio 6A for the inaugural ceremony of its Austin City Limits Hall of Fame, with Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan as the charter inductees. Nelson and members of Vaughan's Double Trouble band performed, along with guests including Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris and Buddy Guy. The studio was designated as an official Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark in 2009.