03/15/2005 AT 08:00 AM EST
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of rock, The Pretenders, The O'Jays, Percy Sledge and blues legend Buddy Guy were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a New York ceremony Monday night – but it was inductees U2 that were clearly the evening's star attraction.
"They are the keepers of some of the most beautiful sonic orchestration in rock and roll," Bruce Springsteen said of the band.
No sooner had the Irish group – guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton, drummer Larry Mullen Jr. and frontman Bono – received their honor than they were facing reporters backstage. "Bono! ... What about the Nobel Peace Prize?" one reporter called out, obviously in reference to Bono's mission to eradicate third-world debt and curb the spread of AIDS in Africa.
"Rock star is already having the cream of the cake," Bono replied, according to the Associated Press.
Even with U2 not inducted until after midnight, there was hardly an empty chair in the Waldorf-Astoria ballroom – though the crowd, which included Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere and Mariah Carey, was having a hard time remaining seated.
This was especially the case when U2 performed some of their biggest hits, including "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" with an assist from Springsteen.
Another highlight: Justin Timberlake inducting the O'Jays, who performed such standards as "Back Stabbers," "Love Train" and "For the Love of Money."
"Anyone who's ever written, produced or performed something soulful stands in the shadows of these giants," said Timberlake.