Dusty Springfield was honoured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last night, two weeks after her death from breast cancer.

Representing the Sixties pop star, Sir Elton John recalled how he had joined her fan club and stuck her pictures on his bedroom wall. "I'm biased but I just think she was the greatest white singer there has ever been," he told the ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria. "Every song she sang, she claimed as her own."

Elton John with Dusty Springfield's long-time friend
and manager, Vicki Wickham, who accepted Dusty's award.

Also joining the Hall of Fame last night were Sir Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. Sir Paul was inducted by singer Neil Young, who praised his career with the Beatles and Wings.

Springsteen performed with his E Street Band, which did not receive an honour. Under Hall of Fame rules, artists are not eligible until 25 years after their first record and the E Street Band dod not receive billing on a Springsteen record until 1985. Billy Joel said the honour was one of the most meaningful in his career.

The names of those honoured are on permanent display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, which opened in 1995.

Sir Paul, who was joined on stage by his daughter, Stella, paid tribute to his late wife, Linda. "I would like my baby to share this with me," he said. "She wanted this." Not as much as Stella, apparently, who wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the words "about time" and adding an expletive.

Sir Paul, whose former songwriting partner John Lennon is also in the hall for his solo work, said George Harrison and Ringo Starr should be next. During a jam session that stretched on after midnight, Sir Paul performed the Carl Perkins classic, "Blue Suede Shoes". The ceremony was a warm-up gig for Springsteen and his E Street Band, due to kick off their first tour in a decade next month.

U2's Bono inducted Springsteen, recalling how Springsteen never embarrassed himself: "No bad hair period, even in the Eighties," he said. Springsteen paid tribute to each band member in his acceptance speech. He also thanked his mother, who was in the audience, for buying him his first guitar as a Christmas present.

Billy Joel gave to fellow piano man Ray Charles, who inducted him, a long hug. Joel said he learned his music from Charles, Otis Redding, and Wilson Pickett. "I know I've been referred to as derivative," Joel said. "I'm damn guilty . . . If everyone who is derivative was excluded from this institution, there wouldn't be any white people here." Although he continues to perform, Joel hasn't written a pop song for more than five years while he concentrates on classical composing.

Other inductees included Curtis Mayfield, Del Shannon, and the gospel group The Staples Singers.

Barbara McMahon
The Evening Standard (London),
March 16, 1999