Springsteen, McCartney Enter Rock Pantheon

New Jersey-born rock populist and ex-Beatle provide highlights at Rock Hall induction ceremony.

NEW YORK -- On a night filled with history and celebration, the Rock and Roll

Hall of Fame's 14th annual induction ceremony 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 continued. "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."

And a man of dignity, too. "[Springsteen] hasn't done the things most rock stars do," Bono

said. "No drug busts ... no blood changes in Switzerland ... no bad hair period in the

'80s."

Springsteen's induction, and his subsequent performance with his E Street Band,

provided the highlights of a night filled with moving moments.

During the ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Paul McCartney, who had already

been inducted as a member of the Beatles, entered the Hall as a solo artist, and

dedicated the honor to his late wife, Linda, who died a year ago.

Elton John injected humor into his speech when he inducted British soul-pop singer

Dusty Springfield, who died of cancer two weeks ago, calling her "the greatest white

singer there ever has been, apart from Tiffany." He was facetiously referring to the 1980s

teen idol.

Everclear's Art Alexakis inducted Del Shannon, a '60s pop rocker known for such

classics as "Runaway," who committed suicide in 1990. Lauryn Hill inducted gospel-soul

legends the Staple Singers. Ray Charles saluted pop piano man Billy Joel.

Also entering the Hall Monday were the late Bob Wills, a pioneer of the country-music

style known as Western swing (he was inducted by Chris Isaak), the late R&B singer

Charles Brown (inducted by Bonnie Raitt), and soul singer/songwriter Curtis Mayfield

(inducted by Sean "Puffy" Combs). Mayfield, who has been paralyzed from the neck

down since a freak onstage accident in 1990, was too ill to attend the ceremony.

But the night belonged to Springsteen, the storied singer of such songs as

HREF="http://media.addict.com/atn-bin/get-

music/Springsteen,_Bruce/Born_To_Run.ram">"Born to Run" (RealAudio

excerpt) and "Born in the U.S.A." "More than anyone else," Bono said, "... Springsteen

owns America's heart."

Springsteen gave a long speech during which he saluted his late father, his manager,

his co-producers and engineers and his E Street Band -- who, in a decision that rankled

some fans, were not inducted with Springsteen. "Everyone wants to know how I feel

about the band," Springsteen said. "Hell, I married one of them."

Then, addressing his wife, E Street vocalist Patti Scialfa, he paraphrased one of his own

lyrics, saying, "Baby, you're tougher than the rest."

Springsteen said his troubled relationship with his recently deceased father, which he

chronicled openly in such songs as "Independence Day," helped fuel his music.

"If everything had gone great between us, [my career] would have been a disaster,"

Springsteen said. "When I tried writing happy songs in the early '90s, people didn't like

it."

Springsteen also praised original E Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt, who will tour

with Springsteen this year for the first time since the early '80s. "We haven't played

together in 15 years," Springsteen said. "I'll never let that happen again."

With Van Zandt and the rest of the E Streeters, Springsteen performed a four-song set,

leading off with a stunning wall-of-sound version of their 1978

"Promised Land."

(RealAudio excerpt) They followed with "Backstreets" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" before new inductee Joel

and soul singer Wilson Pickett -- who was inducted into the hall in 1991 -- joined them for

a rendition of Pickett's 1965 hit "In the Midnight Hour." Joel played organ, Pickett and

Springsteen traded off on the verses.

Accepting his own induction earlier in the night, Joel 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."

Grunge-rock godfather Neil Young, who inducted McCartney, called the

ex-Beatle "one of the greatest songwriters, perhaps ever" and predicted

he will be "remembered a hundred years from now."

McCartney held his award high and said, "This one's to you, baby,"

referring to his late wife. Their daughter Stella stood by McCartney's

side wearing a shirt that read "It's about f---ing time" -- a reference

to the three years it took the hall to induct her father as a solo

artist after he became eligible.

Backstage, Joel said of McCartney's Beatles, "Those guys showed me it

was possible to make a life like this ... I'm from freaking Levittown"

(a town on New York's Long Island).

Melissa Etheridge paid tribute to Springfield by performing her 1969 hit

"Son of A Preacher Man"

(RealAudio excerpt of Springfield version). Elton John said of Springfield,

"She was enough to turn a gay boy straight -- but not quite enough. She

was a diva to the end."

The Hall of Fame also honored one of its own traditions by resurrecting

the Hall of Fame jam, a free-for-all performance session that had been

skipped in recent years.

The Staple Singers performed a medley of their "Respect Yourself" and

"I'll Take You There" while an audience that included Bono, Springsteen

and Lou Reed rocked back and forth and clapped along.

Joel and Raitt led the crowd through Shannon's "Runaway," then McCartney

was coaxed out to sing Carl Perkins' '50s hit "Blue Suede Shoes."

Charles performed "What'd I Say" and then, in Mayfield's absence, Bono

and Mavis Staples of the Staple Singers sang his "People Get Ready."

The stage, meanwhile, was filling up with such luminaries as Etheridge,

Raitt, Hill, Alexakis, Eric Clapton, Lenny Kravitz, D'Angelo and E

Street Band members Nils Lofgren and Max Weinberg.

With Joel leading the way on piano and McCartney back at the microphone,

the assembled stars capped the night by performing McCartney's Beatles

hit "Let It Be." Robbie Robertson of the Band played a spirited guitar

solo; Dion and Isaak shook one maraca each.

Afterward, McCartney said "It's time to go home. This was a good night,

yeah!"

VH1 will broadcast an edited version of the festivities Wednesday from

9 to 11:30 p.m. EST.

(Contributing Editor Teri vanHorn contributed to this story.)