Austin City Limits rings in the new year with a star-studded evening, hosted by comedy duo Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, featuring one-of-a-kind performances and collaborations from the third annual ACL Hall of Fame Inductions and Celebration. ACL royalty Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, Gary Clark Jr., Rodney Crowell, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and more share the stage for one epic night to perform in honor of the newest class of inductees: Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt and B.B. King. This special hour, taped October 12, 2016, honors the artists who’ve helped make the award-winning TV series an American music institution.
The special kicks off with a tribute to songwriting great Kris Kristofferson, who first appeared on the series in 1982, as Rodney Crowell honors the legend with a powerful reading of his classic “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” Willie Nelson salutes his longtime friend and collaborator with a moving version of Kristofferson’s signature “Me and Bobby McGee.” Mavis Staples takes the stage to toast Bonnie Raitt, calling her “my sister,” and the two icons perform a spirited duet of Bob Dylan’s call for social change, “Well Well Well,” before teaming with blues legend Taj Mahal for the Raitt smash “Thing Called Love.” ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons honors his friend and mentor B.B. King with a fiery take on the blues giant’s “You Upset Me, Baby” backed by King’s longtime band. Blues-soul sensation Gary Clark Jr. then joins Raitt for an electrifying “The Thrill Is Gone,” as the two guitar slingers trade verses and solos on the late, great bluesman’s anthem, bringing the house down. “I know B.B. is smiling down on us,” says Raitt. “This one’s for him.”
The entire cast takes the ACL stage for a grand finale featuring the blues classic, “Every Day I Have The Blues,” a song B.B. King performed on his iconic 1983 Austin City Limits debut. The celebration of music comes to an epic close complete with fireworks, and the two-dozen strong ensemble ringing in the new year with the holiday classic “Auld Lang Syne.”
“We created the Hall of Fame as a way to celebrate our 40th anniversary, and since then it’s really taken on a life of its own,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “The artists feel truly honored, and it gives us a chance to recognize their contributions to our legacy. And beyond that it’s a magical night of music and unique collaborations.”
Tune in this weekend for this special, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Tune in next week for an encore of our landmark episode featuring R&B superstar Ms. Lauryn Hill.