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“They say that I have no hits and that I’m difficult to work with,” he said, “and they say that like it’s a bad thing.”

Mr. Russell composed “A Song for You” and “Delta Lady,” but he said he was in “a ditch beside the highway of life” when Elton John called a year ago and suggested they record an album together. The result was nominated for a Grammy.

“After that album,” Mr. John said, “Leon came alive, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”

Mr. Russell, with a shock of long white hair and a beard, walked haltingly onstage with the help of a cane and met Mr. John for a warm embrace.

Miss Love, whose voice cut through Phil Spector’s heavy production, called her induction into the hall her best 70th birthday present. She praised Spector’s work but also tweaked him: “Phil Spector said God made two musical geniuses: Beethoven and Phil Spector,” she recalled.

Miss Love lent her powerful voice to several of Spector’s hits, in acts such as the Crystals and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans. Her “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” is a holiday standard: She sang on U2’s cover and performs it every December on David Letterman’s show.

She was inducted with a comic ramble by Miss Midler, who said she was a goner when she first heard Miss Love’s voice on a transistor radio.

“Listening to her songs, you had to dance, you had to move, you had to keep looking for that rebel boy,” Miss Midler said. “Suddenly nobody wanted the buttoned-down guy who was a good provider.”

New Orleans piano maestro Dr. John, born Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack Jr., was inducted by singer John Legend, who recalled meeting him at a benefit for Hurricane Katrina relief. Mr. Legend said the new Hall of Fame member has been a leading global ambassador for New Orleans and its special musical gumbo.

“He has never stopped flying the flag of funk,” Mr. Legend said. “Tonight, he is definitely in the right place at the right time.”

That was a reference to one of Dr. John’s best-known songs, “Right Place, Wrong Time,” with Allen Toussaint and the Meters, which he performed as the ceremony slipped past midnight.

Dr. John wore a bright purple suit for his big night and was asked backstage where he had bought his shoes.

“The pimp store,” he replied.

Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman and Specialty Records founder Art Rupe also were inducted, in the non-performer category.

The inductees’ work will be celebrated in perpetuity at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.

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