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The 56-year-old rocker said he never knew of the surgery until his teen years, when a classmate asked him about the scar behind his neck.

His grandmother always whispered in his ear: "Buddy, you're the luckiest boy alive." "I'm lucky to be standing here for any number of reasons," said Mellencamp, a heart patient who snuffed out a cigarette as he took the stage.

He started out as a poet but has been writing and recording his own music since the 1960s.

Madonna recalled a teacher who encouraged her to follow her dreams when she was only 14.

"We're so lucky to be alive at the same time Leonard Cohen is," Reed said.

Cohen, dressed in a black tux, recited the lyrics to his song ``Tower of Song" in a hushed voice.

"Everything he said is basically true," Madonna confirmed. heartland hitmaker John Mellencamp, with his son Speck playing guitar and his parents watching from a balcony above the Waldorf Astoria Hotel ballroom, joined the rock-kicking with a rumbling version of "Authority Song." "I wrote this song and I still feel the same way today as I did when I wrote it 25 years ago," Mellencamp said.

"But I didn't say `drop 'em,' I said, `pull your pants down." Madonna didn't perform but asked punk rockers Iggy Pop and the Stooges to sing "Burning Up" and "Ray of Light." At the end, a shirtless Pop said: "You make me feel shiny and new, like a virgin touched for the very first time," and tossed his microphone of the floor. He talked of having surgery for spina bifida when he was six weeks old, saying doctors were worried he would be paralyzed below the neck.

But Shawn and I were on the same page from the very beginning. When you're the director, it's all about everybody just wanting to get the hell home." To illustrate the point, he cites a Canadian acting job, on the Paul Gross miniseries, The Trojan Horse, debuting on CBC later this month. And then go home."), he hoisted on his shoulders the challenge of selling one of the most debated new technologies to international consumers online video. At Jump TV's Toronto headquarters, a quaint office just off a main downtown street, Banks, 39, sits in the company's board room talking about the future of online content and its potential to mesh it with traditional television viewing habits."But there is truly only one Madonna." Timberlake told of how he felt ill one day while working on Madonna's new album and she asked whether he wanted a B-12 shot.He said sure, expecting a doctor, to show up but Madonna pulled out a syringe and said: "Drop 'em." After he pulled his pants back up, "she looked at me and said: `that's top shelf" and that was one of the greatest days of my life," he said.Fellow Hall of Fame member Billy Joel, who inducted Mellencamp, said: "You scared us a couple of times when we thought we might have lost you a couple of times, even though it might have been a good career move." The world needed Mellencamp's voice, he said."They need to hear somebody out there feels like they do, in the small towns or the big cities," Joel said.

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