Country Throwback: Willie Nelson Performs ‘Bloody Mary Morning’ on ‘Austin City Limits’ Pilot Episode

by Chris Haney
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On this edition of our Country Throwback series, we’re revisiting country legend Willie Nelson performing “Bloody Mary Morning” during the pilot episode of Austin City Limits.

Arguably no other musician has had the impact that Nelson has on PBS’s live music show. He’s been a staple on the longest-running music series in American television history. During the 46-year history of ACL, the Texas native has made 18 appearances on the show if you include the pilot. Additionally, he’s taken the stage and performed on ACL more times than any other artist.

However, back in October of 1974, the music series was just getting off the ground. In fact, ACL originally filmed in the KLRU-TV studio on the University of Texas campus in Austin, TX. The show selected Nelson as its first-ever musical artist, and the rest was history as they say.

Yet, no one could have predicted the success of the public network’s music series. Nelson’s historic ACL pilot performance came six months after his iconic concept album Phases and Stages released. The LP earned rave reviews for weaving stories about divorce told from both the male and female perspective throughout the concept album.

In true 1970’s fashion, Nelson and his band are seen sporting long hair and bell bottoms in the clip. The band treats the ACL crowd to a rowdy rendition of “Bloody Mary Morning,” which features on side two of Phases and Stages. The video gives Willie Nelson fans a glimpse into the country icon’s masterful album. In addition, it makes many of us extremely jealous we didn’t get to see Nelson play live in the ’70s.

Sit back and enjoy three and a half minutes of pure magic from Shotgun Willie himself.

Willie Nelson Announces New Frank Sinatra Tribute Album

Fast forward almost five decades and Nelson is still going strong and making relevant music. Just last week, the country singer announced a second Frank Sinatra tribute album titled That’s Just Life. His first similar album of Sinatra tunes released in 2018 called My Way.

That’s Just Life is scheduled to release in a couple months on February 26, 2021.

Track List

  • Nice Work If You Can Get It 
  • Just In Time 
  • A Cottage For Sale 
  • I’ve Got You Under My Skin 
  • You Make Me Feel So Young 
  • I Won’t Dance (featuring Diana Krall) 
  • That’s Life 
  • Luck Be A Lady 
  • In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning 
  • Learnin’ The Blues 
  • Lonesome Road 
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