"There's no doubt in my mind that 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday' wouldn't and couldn't have been written if it wasn't for the Clash."
——U2’s The Edge


Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Opens Doors to Clash, Police, Costello, AC/DC, Righteous Brothers, Mo Ostin
They partied like it was 1978 Monday night at the Waldorf Astoria, only without the blow.

At a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony highlighted by the Police's first performance in 18 years and undercut by acrimony between Elvis Costello and former Attractions bassist Bruce Thomas, the punk/new wave era got the sort of official recognition that the ripped-T-shirt generation would’ve spit on 25 years ago.

Along with the Police and Costello & the Attractions, the Class of ’78 was represented by the surviving members of the Clash. Also inducted were AC/DC, the Righteous Brothers and music-biz legend Mo Ostin.

The Police, who played "Roxanne," "Every Breath You Take" and "Message in a Bottle," finally gave in to a widespread desire to see them reunite, if only for one night. Sadly, that was not an option for the Clash, whose front man Joe Strummer died last Dec. 22. The quintessential punk band was inducted by U2’s The Edge and Audioslave’s Tom Morello.

"If they had been around 10 years earlier, they would have given the Beatles, the Kinks and the Stones a run for their money," Edge hypothesized. "If they had arrived 10 years later, they might have resolved their internal conflicts and stayed the course. There's no doubt in my mind that 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday' wouldn't and couldn't have been written if it wasn't for the Clash."

"I'd like to make it very clear that there is absolutely no ego in our band whatsoever," Police guitarist Andy Summers quipped, while Sting claimed Stewart Copeland had bitched about the song selection because there wasn't enough drumming in them, reportedly badgering them into adding the uptempo "Message in a Bottle" to their mini-set.

No Doubt's Gwen Stefani, who introduced the Police, brought along a photo of herself at 13 getting Sting's autograph after a show.

A longstanding rift between Costello and Thomas (no relation to Attractions drummer Pete Thomas) prevented a full-on reunion of that trailblazing band, although Elvis played "Pump It Up, " a medley of "Deep Dark, Truthful Mirror" and Smokey Robinson's "You Really Got a Hold on Me" and Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?" with his present band, the Imposters, which includes Pete Thomas and Attractions keyboardist Steve Nieve. Bruce Thomas did show up, but his acceptance speech was brief, to say the least: "Thanks for the memories—that's it,'' he snarled, then stomped off stage and out the door, trophy in hand. Costello flipped a bird in response.

"It's a very good night to be British, because three of the finest acts of the last 30 years came out of Britain and three are here to be honored," said Elton John, who spoke on behalf of Costello and band.

Ostin, loved and respected by artists and fellow execs alike during his long run at the helm of Warner Bros. Records, was inducted by Hall of Famers Neil Young and Paul Simon. The outspoken Young took the opportunity to express his fears about the likelihood of a U.S.attack on Iraq, stating, "Tonight we're having a good time, but we're going to kill a lot of people next week. Let's not forget about that—we're making a huge mistake."

AC/DC turned it up to 10, er 11, on typically crushing performances of "Highway to Hell" and "You Shook Me All Night Long," with Aerosmith's Steven Tyler hopping onstage to join the venerable Aussies on the latter song.

Righteous Brothers Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley dedicated a performance of their Phil Spector-produced milestone to Lana Clarkson, who was found shot to death in Spector's house, changing the lyric to "You've Lost That Livin' Feelin.'" Just kidding. In inducting the duo, Billy Joel paid tribute to the pair's ability to "transcend their race and culture and prove that white people can have soul, too." He got one of the biggest laughs of the night when, referring to his recent car accident, he apologized to Sting for the fact "no tree on Long Island is safe."

Also inducted were the late Benny Benjamin, Floyd Cramer and Steve Douglas, who were honored as sidemen.