Was never hard or brutal leveling in classic wow. Anyone who says otherwise is just trying to big themselves up. All it took was time. I had lots during that period and had a rogue (2.5 geared with tf) warrior (2.0 geared) and then a hunter and warlock in mostly tier 1. I raided with 2 guilds.
Mostly everyone I played with had at least 1 alts, some had more. The game was rougher and took a little more effort but it's what everyone was used to and after playing other games like uo, daoc and eq it was refreshing playing a mmo that was in comparison "easy".