Bill Arhos, who founded "Austin City Limits" and helped propel the public television show into a mecca for music's biggest influences, has died. He was 80.

His death was announced Monday by the show, which is now in its 41st season. Spokeswoman Maureen Coakley said Arhos died Saturday after a long illness.

Arhos was running Austin's PBS affiliate in the 1970s when he tapped into the city's budding music scene as a way to fill programming. He launched 'Austin City Limits' in 1974 with Willie Nelson as the first performer.

Among the hundreds of stars who have taped shows since are Robert Plant, Emmylou Harris, Roy Orbison and Pearl Jam.

Last year, Arhos joined Nelson as an inductee into the inaugural Austin City Limits Hall of Fame.