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Guns N' Roses -- sans Axl -- rock into Hall of Fame

On their way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Guns N' Roses got together for one more gig.

Axl Rose missed it.

The hedonistic hard rockers, who became the world's top music act amid endless dysfunction, members of Guns N' Roses reunited for three songs on Saturday night before 6,000 fans, many of whom were thrilled to see at least most of the band's original lineup jam on classic hits like "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Paradise City."

Rose, the band's frontman and ringmaster of the G N' R traveling sex, drugs and rock and roll circus, declined to attend the induction, saying he didn't want to be part of the ceremony because it "doesn't appear to be somewhere I'm actually wanted or respected."

While his decision disappointed some hardcore fans and ended any possibility of a full-scale reunion of the original lineup, guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steve Adler performed for the first time in nearly 20 years to the delight of the sell-out crowd inside historic Public Hall.

Guns N' Roses were one of the headliners of this year's eclectic group of inductees, which included the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beastie Boys, folk icon Donovan, late singer-songwriter Laura Nyro and British bands the Small Faces and Faces.

The event lasted well into the early morning with an All-Star jam featuring some of rock's biggest names closing the 5 1/2 hour ceremony with a stirring rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground."

Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis said it was strange to be enshrined while the band was touring.

"We're going somewhere," Kiedis said. "How can we stop and take an award when really we're just halfway there? But it is nice to be together with people that we spent some incredible years along the way writing songs and playing shows in little theaters and sweaty little transvestite clubs and having the time of our lives."

Only two of the three Beasties Boys attended the ceremony. Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz read a speech by Adam "MCA" Yauch, who has been fighting cancer.

Three white middle-class smart alecks from New York City, the Beastie Boys were initially dismissed as beer-swilling frat boys following their 1986 debut album "License To Ill," which featured songs like "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)" and "Girls." But their follow-up album, "Paul's Boutique," was acclaimed by critics and brought the Beasties credibility in the black hip-hop community.

Stevie Van Zandt, one of Bruce Springsteen's sidemen in the E Street Band, inducted the Small Faces and Faces, bands that included Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, two superstars.

Van Zandt credited the underrated bands for having a major influence on generations of rockers. He said both were blessed to have strong lead singers in Stewart and the late Steve Marriott.

During a speech that was at times comical but heartfelt throughout, John Mellencamp inducted Donovan, a balladeer from the flower-power 1960s once labeled "the new Dylan." Donovan Leitch had a string of hits in the '60s with "Sunshine Superman," "Hurdy Gurdy Man" and "Mellow Yellow."

The influential Nyro, who died in 1997, never reached commercial success but wrote hits for other artists. She was inducted by singer Bette Midler.

"I loved her the moment I dropped the needle on the vinyl," Midler said. "She was the very essence of New York City. Not in the gritty real sense, but in the passionate, romantic, ethereal, eternal sense."