Elton Waves Flag at Rock Hall Ceremony

03/11/2003 at 01:00 PM EST

Elton John may have said it best Monday night at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel -- as the Clash, the Police and Elvis Costello & the Attractions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"It's a very good night to be British," said John, 55, as quoted by the Associated Press, "because three of the finest acts of the last 30 years came out of Britain and three are here to be honored."

Not that Brits monopolized the evening. Also honored were Aussie hard rockers AC/DC ("You Shook Me All Night Long") and the top-selling soul singers from the '60s, the Righteous Brothers ("You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'").

At the ceremony, Costello and his new band, the Impostors, played a ferocious version of his hit, "Pump It Up" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding."

Recalling his earlier days, with the Attractions, Costello, 48, said: "When we first started out, we had 35 minutes of music. On a good night we could get it down to 25."

The Clash accepted its honor without its influential vocalist-guitarist Joe Strummer, who died of heart failure last December at age 50.

Meanwhile, The Police -- Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland -- reunited for their first public performance since 1986. And a very upbeat Billy Joel inducted Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley -- the Righteous Brothers.

With his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, the Piano Man, 53, told the crowd: "Sometimes people with blue eyes transcended the limitations of what their color and culture can actually be. Sometimes white people can actually be soulful. This was a life-changing idea. It changed my life."

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