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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rock 'n' roll royalty held court on Thursday night as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Sting and other music legends staged a marathon show to celebrate the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 25th anniversary.
The six-hour concert at Madison Square Garden included over 50 songs and also featured performances by Crosby, Stills and Nash, blues great B.B. King, Smokey Robinson, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, Jackson Browne and others.
Actor Tom Hanks introduced rock pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis, who kicked off the show with his classic "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On."
"This is the music of our generation, this is the music that we grew up with, this is the soundtrack of our lives," Hanks said to reporters before the show.
Some of the biggest acts played several of their hits before bringing out featured guests who sang their own well-known songs.
Crosby, Stills and Nash began their set with "Woodstock" and "Marrakech Express" before inviting Taylor, Browne and Bonnie Raitt to the stage.
Paul Simon, who performed selections from his solo catalog before introducing and performing with his former partner Art Garfunkel, gave the spotlight to early rock heartthrob Dion DiMucci and his hit "The Wanderer."
The audience enthusiastically greeted some of the best-known songs, but emotional high points were registered during tributes to deceased Hall of Fame members.
David Crosby and Graham Nash harmonized with Simon on "Here Comes the Sun," written by former Beatle George Harrison.
Stevie Wonder, who brought out singer John Legend to perform Marvin Gaye's "Mercy Mercy Me," was so overcome with emotion while singing the late Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" that he was unable to sing one of the verses and briefly laid his head down on his keyboard.
Springsteen and Creedence Clearwater Revival's John Fogerty shared vocals on Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman," and "The Boss" followed with "London Calling," in tribute to The Clash.
The show's energy level peaked during Springsteen's set.
He brought out Sam Moore, half of the soul/rhythm and blues duo Sam and Dave, to perform "Hold On, I'm Comin'" and "Soul Man." The only unannounced performer of the night was Billy Joel, who performed three of his songs as well as Springsteen's signature rock anthem "Born To Run."
A second concert celebrating the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 25th anniversary is set for Friday night with scheduled performances by U2, Aretha Franklin, Metallica, Annie Lennox, Lou Reed, Ozzy Osbourne and others.
U.S. cable television network HBO will air a four-hour special containing highlights from both nights on November 29.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte