Brian Hiatt
March 26, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

”Dearly beloved,” intoned Prince at the 19th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, ”We have gathered here today to get through this thing called life.” But the all-star crowd (Springsteen, Jagger) really seemed to have gathered March 15 in NYC to celebrate his Purple Majesty. ”Prince defies all boundaries,” marveled Alicia Keys on the event’s red carpet.

The other inductees, including Jackson Browne and Traffic, also had their fans. ”He’s everything to me,” a humbled (but still pimp-hat-wearing) Kid Rock said of fellow Detroit rocker Bob Seger. Still, the night, taped for a March 21 VH1 special, belonged to the artist formerly known as Prince. Said Billy Gibbons, extenda-bearded guitar maestro of inductees ZZ Top: ”I’m still trying to learn that opening riff from ‘When Doves Cry.”’

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