"It was the most emotionally moving, musically satisfying night the Hall has ever seen," said Rolling Stone's Anthony Bozza of the 1999 Induction Ceremony. What a combination: stellar performances, powerful speeches, and the lingering sadness from the recent loss of inductees Charles Brown and Dusty Springfield, plus Linda McCartney's death, and the courage of Curtis Mayfield, who'd planned to attend, but whose deteriorating health prevented it at the last minute. Instead of giving a speech, inductee Paul McCartney tearfully spoke of his late wife: "It's brilliant/sad, of course, because, yeah, I would like my baby to share this with me. She wanted this. But it's beautiful, you know, she's beautiful, it's all beautiful, and we're cool. I love rock & roll. I love Cleveland, 'cause Cleveland gave me Linda's mom, she was from Cleveland. And I love New York, 'cause New York gave me Linda. So I want to say to you all, thank you very, very much, and this one's for you, baby.
It was a night of raconteurs -- Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Bonnie Raitt, Elton John, Billy Joel, Chris Isaak -- giving both funny and moving speeches. The musical performances were superb, including the Staple Singers testifying on "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There" and Eric Clapton and D'Angelo's charged performance of the Impressions' "I've Been Trying." Most spectacular was the end-of-the-night musical marathon, including Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band reunion -- the first in a decade -- and the surprise appearance of 1991 inductee Wilson Pickett, duetting with Springsteen on his 1965 hit "In the Midnight Hour." The biggest surprise came with the spontaneity at the night's end when Paul McCartney joined in on a impassioned "Let It Be."