NEW YORK -- On a night filled with history and celebration, the 14th annual induction ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame reached its apex Monday with the ushering in of New Jersey-born rock-icon Bruce
Springsteen by Irish rocker Bono.
Leaning against the podium, U2 singer Bono delivered a poetic speech about Springsteen and his contributions to music, saying that, in the blue-collar rocker's lyrics, "ordinary lives became extraordinary…
"…Handsome mother with those brooding brown eyes, " Bono said. "Eyes that could see through America. And a catastrophe of great songs if you were another songwriter…
"Here was a dude that carried himself like Brando, Dylan and Elvis. If John Steinbeck could sing; if Van Morrison could ride a Harley. But he was something new too. He was the first whiff of Scorsese, Patti Smith, Elvis Costello…"
In accepting the award, Springsteen gave a long speech, which he ended by thanking every musician who has played in his E Street Band as well as his co-producers, engineers and manager-producer Jon Landau. "Everyone wants to know how I feel about the band -- Hell, I married one of them," he said.
Then, addressing his wife, E Street vocalist Patti Scialfa, he said (in a paraphrase of one of his song lyrics): "Baby, you're tougher than the rest."
The ceremony, held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel here, also featured the following inductees: Paul McCartney, inducted by Neil Young; the late Del Shannon, inducted by Everclear's Art Alexakis; the Staple Singers, inducted by Lauryn Hill; Billy Joel, inducted by Ray Charles; Bob Wills, inducted by Chris Isaak; the late Dusty Springfield, inducted by Elton John; the late Charles
Brown, inducted by Bonnie Raitt; and Curtis Mayfield, inducted by Sean "Puffy" Combs.
After former Beatle McCartney was inducted, Springsteen and the E Street Band took the stage and performed a four-song set, leading off with a stunning wall-of-sound version of their 1978 song "Promised Land." The number was followed by "Backstreets" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" before soul singer Wilson Pickett -- who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991 -- and new inductee Joel joined
Springsteen onstage for a rendition of Pickett's 1965 hit "In the Midnight Hour." As Joel played organ, Pickett and Springsteen traded off on the verses.
Earlier, McCartney was inducted by grunge-rock godfather Neil Young, who called McCartney "one of the greatest songwriters, perhaps ever" and said that he will be "remembered a hundred years from now."
McCartney dedicated his award to his late wife, Linda, who died last year after a battle with cancer, saying, "This one's to you, baby," as he raised the award high.
Joel, in accepting his honor, noted the influence of black artists on his music. "I know I've been referred to as derivative," he said. "I'm derivative as hell. There wouldn't be any white people in [the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame] if they didn't let us derivative people in."
While rocker Melissa Etheridge paid tribute to Springfield by performing the late pop-soul singer's 1969 hit "Son of A Preacher Man," Elton John filled his dedication speech to her with humor, at one point calling her "the greatest white
singer there ever has been, apart from Tiffany." He was facetiously referring to the 1980s teen idol.
Regarding Springfield, John said, "She was enough to turn a gay boy straight -- but not quite enough. She was a diva to the end."
The Staple Singers also provided another of the evening's highlights, with their medley performance of "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There."
As they performed, everyone from Bono to Lou Reed to Springsteen were rocking back and forth and clapping in the audience.
(Frank Tortorici contributed to this report.)