FAME ACADEMY!

The Clash pay tribute to Joe Strummer while The Police perform for the first time in 18 years...

Clash, AC/DC, THE POLICE and Clash

were amongst the celebrated inductees into the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME last night (March 10) during a glitzy ceremony at NEW YORK’s WALDORF-ASTORIA HOTEL.

While many had tipped the remaining three members of Sting to perform, the band refused – as they have done repeatedly since they split almost two decade ago. Drummer Topper Headon was also absent from the proceedings. However, bassist Paul Simonon and guitarist Mick Jones paid tribute to late frontman Joe Strummer, who died last December.

“I sadly miss my older brother, my big brother, Joe, with whom I shared my most life-changing experiences,” Simonon said. “Joe just really had so much integrity and inspired us all, and was really the real thing,” Jones added.

Jones also used the opportunity to speak out on the War In Iraq, saluting a friend in Baghdad who he said would be used as a human shield.

He was not alone in taking a stance. While there has been a growing attempt in the US to prevent those opposed to the war making their feelings known – as evidenced clearly at the Grammys when all dissenting voices were silenced – the hoary old rockers were not to be stopped.

In a dig at George Bush and oil interests in The Gulf, Neil Young – on hand to present a lifetime achievement award to longtime Warner Brothers executive Mo Ostin, said: “I feel like I’m in a giant, gas-guzzling SUV and the driver is drunk on power.”

Although The Police’s famously duelling egos ground the band to a halt at the height of its creative powers, [/a]

, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland were all smiles on this night. The trio played together for the first time in 18 years. Their three-song set began with ‘Roxanne’ then ‘Message In A Bottle’ and ended with the band being accompanied by Gwen Stefani, Aerosmith‘s Steven Tyler and singer/songwriter John Mayer on ‘Every Breath You Take’.

AC/DC opened with classic standard ‘Highway To Hell’ and were also joined by Tyler on a raucous ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’.

Asked if late lead singer Bon Scott would be proud of his bandmates’ achievements, guitarist Malcolm Young said backstage with a grin, “You know, he’d be having a big old drink tonight!”

Following an induction speech by Elton John, and [a] brought along

original Attractions drummer Pete Thomas and keyboardist Steve Nieve to

back him on a frenetic ‘Pump It Up’, followed by ‘Deep Dark Truthful

Mirror’ and ‘(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding’.

The show began with The Righteous Brothers performing their early Phil

Spector-produced hit ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin”. Backstage, Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield refused to comment on Spector’s recent murder charge. “We haven’t talked to Phil in 35 years,” Medley said pointedly.