Les Paul: Still Chasing Sound

Profile/Copyright © 2005, 2007 by Jim O’Donnell

The first thing to substantiate about Les Paul is that there really is one. Young people think he's a sociology report. Riddled middle-agers think he's a guitar. Older folks—aware that he was revolutionizing guitar-playing before Eric Clapton had his first pair of long pants—think he's a legend. All of them probably think he has guitar strings for arteries.

Nowadays, to confuse matters further, the 90-year-old guitar-picker has stepped into the stratospheric category known as Rock Star. On his recent CD release, American Made/World Played, his sidemen include the likes of Jeff Beck, Joe Perry and Buddy Guy.

The CD puts a big bold exclamation point on Mr. Paul becoming what was called a “permanent installation” exhibit at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame last year. He had been inducted into the hall in 1988.

What does Les Paul, person, think about all the fame fuss that has surrounded his life?

“I don't think I'm very successful,” he drawls. “I just constantly try to improve, knowing that I've improved very little since I was fifteen, sixteen years old. You don't improve much after that."

The utter absence of hauteur is genuine and, in an age of megahype, downright unnerving. Fact is, besides his million-selling records, Grammy Awards, and permanently installed Rock Hall of Fame status, Les Paul is, truly, in a class by himself. When Jimi Hendrix was planning his Electric Lady Studios in the late 60s, he went to Les Paul for advice.

Asked some years ago to review a Les Paul album for the English newspaper Melody Maker, former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page put it this way: "He's the man who started everything. He's just a genius."

It's a genius that has delivered to pop music a mad-scientist's bag of tricks like phase shifting, overdubbing, reverb effects, sound-on-sound, close-miking, echo and delay. The Les Paul guitar, in and of itself, is a fine-fragranced, long-stemmed rose in the garden of modern musical instruments.

Guitarist Eddie Van Halen once stood on a stage with Les Paul and said to him: "Without the things you have done, I wouldn't be able to do half the things I do."

A rock guitarist who built his instrument entirely from scratch is Brian May, formerly of Queen. When I asked Queen Guitar Brian about King Guitar Les, he said: “It’s incredible how far into the technology he got all at once.”

Mr. Paul also happens to be the guy who invented multi-track recording and the solidbody electric guitar. For those two contributions alone, one could venture to say that the history of popular music without Les Paul would be as diminished as the history of the Beatles less Paul.

If he were Mrs. Paul, his onions would be fried, and he'd be the mother of all electric guitar wars, since so many rock guitarists choose his instrument as their weapon of choice. Instead, he's the father because in 1941 in New York City Mr. Paul came up with the first solidbody guitar.

Since the instrument fundamentally transformed how pop music was played and heard, its development was the most important achievement in a lifetime of important achievements.

In the lifetime of 1941 America, people's minds were on two growing wars: one in Europe and one in Asia. The Yankees found themselves playing the Dodgers in an all-New-York World Series; something called "automatic transmission" found its way into automobiles; and in Duluth, Minnesota, a baby boy named Robert Allen Zimmerman (later to go by the name of Bob Dylan) found himself into the world.

A quarter got you into the movies or six tunes on a kaleidoscopic Wurlitzer jukebox. It was the height of the Big Band Era and ballroom dancing. Top tunes of the day were Glenn Miller's "Chattanooga Choo-Choo," Sammy Kaye's "Daddy," and the Inkspots' "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire."

Setting the world of 1941-U.S.A. on fire was an early-stage communications metamorphosis in the cocoon of the electric wire. Across the increasingly wired-up nation, natural sound was beginning to be sublimated by amplified sound. That is to say, there were people beginning to think more in sound waves than sound.

One of those who sensed in electricity the earmarks of a new artistic medium was Lester William Polsfuss, born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, June 9, 1915, five years after the death of Mark Twain. Although born near the beginning of the Twentieth Century, Mr. Paul's instincts belonged to the end of it—to a far more voltaic, medium-is-the-message era.

A natural musician, he was as fascinated by the flow of electricity as by the flow of music. He would prove to be an American innovator who had an artistic feel for electric current that was as ingrained as Twain's artistic feel for the Mississippi's current.

In the early 30s, the up-and-coming professional guitarist began burning his energies on this central vision: a guitar that would produce undistorted electronic sounds.

"What I wanted to do," Mr. Paul told me, "is not have two things vibrating. I wanted the string to vibrate and nothing else. I wanted the guitar to sustain longer than an acoustical box and have different sounds than an acoustical box."

The concept, of course, fired a cannon shot across the bow of the aesthetic canon that guitars resonate. But it was Mr. Paul's precocious perception to see that the presence of electric current changed the entire context of the source.

The requirements were different. The acoustic guitar used its hollowness to get vibrations. With electricity, the vibrations hurt more than helped. The sound would be purer if the body was non-vibrating, stable, solid. The guitar was not to be the sound producer, after all, but the conveyer.

With the vitality of the pioneer and the certitude of the visionary, Mr. Paul hunkered down for years fashioning a guitar geared for a galvanic generation. He handled electricity as if it were a new vernacular and, like Dante writing in his native Italian, dared to create in the language of his day.

He determinedly sliced through one problem after another, the first problem being how the instrument would pick up the electric impulse so the strings would make a sound.

Explains Mr. Paul: "I picked it up first with the other half of a telephone—a magnet and a coil—put it under the strings. Then I used the phonograph—jabbed the needle in the top of the guitar."

Observing that the hollowness of the instrument was interfering with the electronic sound, he realized that a solid surface would serve better.

"I knew that what I needed was a guitar with no holes," says Mr. Paul. "I chucked rags in it. I poured it full of plaster of Paris. I tried everything with the guitar to try to get it to not feed back and not sound like an acoustical box."

He finally hit on his breakthrough in 1941. While F.D.R. was warming up the country with his fireside chats, 26-year-old Les Paul was leaving his fireside for a factory every Sunday.

Epiphone guitars, above a Woolworth's on 14th Street in New York City, was letting him use their factory once a week to work on his guitar-designing. He spent most of every Sunday in the factory while Big Band's big names serenaded New York hotels: Eddy Duchin at the Waldorf, Guy Lombardo at the Roosevelt, Benny Goodman at the New Yorker.

On his Sundays at the factory, he took a four-inch-by-four-inch piece of wood and attached the sides of a cut-up guitar onto it. There it was: a solid, non-vibrating guitar. The inventor-guitarist had redesigned some old tools—wood and string—into a new instrument. He dubbed it "The Log."

More than three-score years later, the solidbody electric guitar has become the biggest All-American wooden symbol since the baseball bat or the log cabin. And like the log cabin, the instrument embodies a pioneering spirit that is enduring.

The rugged Les Paul guitar—the house that Paul built. Over the years he has pointed to the formation of that piece in 1941 as the most essential step in the development of the solidbody prototype.

With the hope that his solid guitar would be his solid gangplank to other worlds, the guitar journeyman tried to sell the idea for manufacturing. But when he brought "The Log" to guitar companies, they eyed him like Cagney eyeing the FBI.

"They didn't buy it," recollects Mr. Paul. "When I went to Gibson with a guitar with no holes in it, they saw the limitations because they said the guy's going to have to walk around with two guitars: one with holes in it so he can play normally, up with a microphone or however; and the other one he's going to have to plug into an amplifier. It looked kind of stupid from their eyes. From my eyes, I was very excited."

Gibson guitars called Mr. Paul's concoction "a broomstick with pick-ups." So while Bing Crosby ("The Crooner") and Frank Sinatra ("The Swooner") raced to pop music fame, "The Broomer" had to sweep his ego under a rug and keep trying.

In the early 40s, the notion of a guitar being hollow was still hallow: it was the empty space inside that made the sound; you fill up that space and you might as well be making broomsticks or baseball bats, not guitars.

The time was also not quite right for Mr. Paul's vision, oracular as it might have been. In the Big Band Era, the big-bang instruments of choice were brass and wind. It was the Age of Swing and Mr. Paul was cooking up an Age of String.

What's more, there was a general feeling that electronics would cheapen art, not deepen it; that the artistic would become mechanical. In terms of the guitar, that translated into a fear that the naturally sublime would be reduced to the electronically ridiculous and that easier access to playing the guitar—just plug it in!—would water down the general quality of music.

The predicament was a precursor to the fear—nay, prejudice—that many have today in the current digital revolution: that electronically transmitted writing and easy Internet access for all writers will lower the general quality of the written word. In a democracy, both art and society improve with more freedom—whether it’s the freedom of a blog or a guitar built like a log.

But, of course, in a democracy changes take time. Mr. Paul's initial efforts with the guitar, consequently, were seen as the supernumerary exercises of a fanatical inventor rather than as the venturesome visions of a colossally creative artist.

Several years later, America had gone through another World War and the country was ready for a big, fat, amplified, celebratory sound. But the guitar companies still weren't ready for Les Paul. He was beaten to the production punch by the late Clarence Leo Fender.

In 1948 a solidbody electric guitar went into mass production, and it was the Fender Broadcaster. Mr. Paul, a superphenom who had learned to play just about every instrument around, found himself on second fiddle.

To a person less acclimatized to obstacles, the moment could have been catastrophic. But by 1948, Mr. Paul was well-launched on a heart-and-soul campaign to spend his life in music. He was already pop music's Timex: he could take a lickin', but keep on pickin'.

He even remembers the first musical lick he ever took. As a perky, red-headed boy of nine, he was taking piano lessons. One day the music teacher wrote a note to little Lester's mother. The note told her that she was wasting her time sending her son for lessons. Recalls a no-longer-so-little Lester: "She just pinned a note on me and I thought it was that I was going to win a scholarship. I didn't realize that she had made a decision that I was a dud."

The Waukesha Wizard was so one-track music-minded—even in his salad days—that the note curdled his ambition not a bit. He had started playing the harmonica at age seven; subsequently took up the piano, saxophone, drums, banjo, and, at age nine, the guitar. His first guitar was a Troubador Silvertone from Sears.

In his dash to create, Mr. Paul became a singing cowboy. He turned professional at age thirteen, called himself Rhubarb Red, and played any country fair, dance hall, Lions Club, or theater that would pay him.

Over the years, the country-picker established himself as a jazz player with all-night jam sessions; a bluesman with his studio work; and a pop music personality with radio shows.

Mr. Paul loved playing the guitar so much that he used to take the instrument out of its case each night, polish it, and position it in a place where it would be the first thing he'd see when he awoke in the morning. By 1939 he had proven himself the curator of such a prodigious talent, F.D.R. invited him and his trio to play at the White House.

In the 1940s, he backed up performers ranging from Bing Crosby to Dinah Shore to the Andrews Sisters. Then in 1946, trying to stay on top in the quicksilver tides of the music business, he decided to squirrel himself away and work on cultivating a guitar sound of his own.

"I dropped my trio and the whole thing," said Mr. Paul, "and locked myself in a room and said I'm going to come up with something—a different sound, a different concept, different everything. So Bing (Crosby) would say, 'What the hell are you doing locking yourself in a garage for?' I'd say, Tm looking for something.' 'What are you looking for? I'll help you find it!' 'Ain't no one gonna help me find it. I don't know what I'm looking for!'"

He looked for two years. The sound he brought forth as aesthetically acceptable was a rich ringing ripple. It was the musical manifestation of electric current in fluid motion and fleshy form, smooth as porcelain, yet deeply sensuous. The feeling was taut and tender as it shimmered across radio airwaves and Victrola speakers. He had taken the solidbody device he'd created, and invested it with a unique spirit.

Concurrent with his new guitar style was his invention of multi-track recording. In 1948 Mr. Paul released the first eight-track records, "Lover" and "Brazil." With the advent of multi-tracking, the record industry would never be the same. L.P. revolutionized the LP.

The following year, he married singer Mary Ford. As a duo in the early 50s, they sold millions upon millions of records, their biggest hit being "Vaya Con Dios" ("Go With God"). In the midst of rising fame and fortune—mid-1952—Gibson finally manufactured Mr. Paul's solidbody. Eleven years after "The Log," the gold-top Les Paul Model went on the market.

Today the Les Paul guitar is a much-sought-after wand by professional musicians worldwide, as well as the bedrock of much great rock. As for Les Paul, the live-wire 2005-vintage human being, he's still leading a multi-track life. His public profile (if legends can be said to have something so mundane) continues to forge forward.

For a guy supposedly in the September of his years, Les Paul is operating with January energy. What he enjoys most these days is playing every Monday night at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City. It's as if wherever he performs anymore becomes a room of historic acoustics.

Indeed, watching Les Paul play an electric solidbody guitar is like watching Henry Ford drive a car, Thomas Edison change a light bulb, Alexander Graham Bell dial 1-800-WHAT-HATH-GOD-WROUGHT.

The audiences that watch him at the Iridium are wrought from all corners of the music world: jazz buffs; rock fans; blues aficionados; pop music lovers; old and young; guitar devotees; male and female; rich and not-so-rich; unknown and known.

Among the "known" cosmopolites to take in his show at the Iridium were Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Tony Bennett and Steve Miller. They sit and listen and look up at him like footnotes at the bottom of a page.

Before busting a move into the Iridium nine years ago, Mr. Paul played a little cave of a jazz club in Greenwich Village called Fat Tuesday’s. The gig ran from 1984 to 1995. Every Monday night he would treat audiences to tasty masterstrokes that gave the New York night a lustrous intensity.

Les Paul may now be “permanently installed” in the Rock Hall of Fame, but, for many people, nothing could be more “permanently installed” than the memories of those Fat Tuesday nights . . .

. . . It's a little after 8 p.m. on a Monday at Tuesday's and the guy with the spindly, seventy-something frame approaches a guitar on a stool. Polished to a marble sheen, the guitar glistens with the streaked browns of a late autumn sunset. Les Paul puts his hand to the guitar delicately and precisely, as if he were about to lift a month-old baby.

Once the guitar is in hand, the eyes light to a seasoned flame. From the border of his combed-back light-red hair, there is a long slope of forehead, the shingle of a thinking blast furnace. He straps on the guitar and looks around and smiles. He starts thrumming the guitar and his age vanishes.

"We're gonna practice for about ten minutes," jokes Mr. Paul, "and then we'll start the show." The melody of long, rich experience runs through his voice. In the course of the evening, he weaves six decades of know-how into a colorful blanket that warms a music lover's heart. The moods range from impassioned to ruminative to playful.
"What would you like to hear?" asks Mr. Paul. "We'll do anything you want."
Someone says: '"Summertime."'

"You got it."

The lead-guitarist reaches into a subterranean storehouse over brimming with rich melodies and pulls out the chords to the George Gershwin classic. While George Harrison's guitar gently weeps, Les Paul's grandly sweeps.

It is a fine-spun sound of astonishing lucidity. The notes flow in a hot, hypnotic, lava-like movement. The delicacy of touch produces thin, chiming forms swaddled in sharpest clarity. The audience appears borne away on the softly floating notes.

Later in the evening, he plays "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and the sharp blue eyes look upward and go there. Mr. Paul used to perform the song behind Judy Garland at the Palace Theatre. At Fat Tuesday's, he treats the piece just as lovingly.

The more he plays of the song, the more time slips away, and the living legend seems to return closer and closer to the enchanted young man who always slept with a shiny guitar within eyeshot. He exudes a lantern-soft charisma as the crowd listens with avidity.

Mr. Paul lightens the mood with jocular between-song patter. His audience interaction is as relaxed as a country doctor on a house call. One night he manages to make a humorous story out of his car being broken into. Somebody in the crowd hollers: "We'll get him for you, Mr. Paul."

"Thanks," he says with a throaty chuckle, and adds: "It’s just 'Les.'"

Another night, an elderly fellow in the front row asks:

"Can I touch your guitar?"

"Sure you can touch it. If it wasn't for the guitar, I wouldn't be here."
"If it wasn't for you," says the elderly fellow, reaching up, "the guitar wouldn't be here."

Actually, it's something of a long shot that either one of them is here. Mr. Paul owns a past that has been haunted by stunning setbacks. About the only thing in his life that is as astounding as his multiplex work is the life-long battle he has waged to do that work. He has had to be as dauntless as he's dexterous. His day-to-day indomitability is a match for his chord-for-chord talent.

Those who know Mr. Paul well think he has more lives than an old tomcat. In 1940 he stuck his hand in a radio transmitter and was put out of commission for a year. In 1948, driving in a snowstorm, his car skidded off a bridge and dropped 500 feet into a river.

He lay in icy water eight hours with a broken back, broken ribs, broken nose, broken collarbone, broken arm. In 1969 a friend accidentally cuffed his ear and broke his eardrum, requiring four operations. In 1980 he had quintuple bypass surgery.

Here in the Twenty First Century there is only one major battle left for this graceful man whom many think of as a myth, and it's a very human problem. From "Z" down to "B"—from "Z" as in Zero response of a music teacher down to "B" as in Bypass heart surgery—Les Paul has duked it out with just about every problem in life's alphabet—all the way down to a big "A": Arthritis.

"The bout with arthritis," Mr. Paul once told me, "never goes away. Right today I'm saying, 'Boy, how much longer have I got with my hands?' The swelling continues and the deterioration continues and the calcium keeps depositing.

"The pain doesn't bother me so much. I'm used to pain. All I'm trying to do is figure a way to play without it—not without the pain, but without the movement.
"Somehow, everybody is trying to stick around as long as they can—no matter how great they paint that picture. And I am a religious man. The choice would be if you really want to go upstairs, and I'm in no hurry to go there anymore than the Pope is. My first thing is to battle."

Besides battling his way to becoming known as a guitar-player, a guitar, an inventor, a sound, a legend, an exhibit and now a rock star worshipped by rock stars, Les Paul has also fought the battle to simply be a good guy.

When he finishes a show, he steps off the stage and heads directly into the audience. He shakes hands, poses for pictures, swaps stories and signs autographs until everyone in the place has been more or less Paulverized by Legend Access.
To re-frame the picture in non-legendary, human terms: a 90-year-old guy with arthritis in his hands signing dozens of autographs after playing a guitar for 90 minutes.

In particular, Mr. Paul gives special time and attention to young people, especially those who tell him they are fellow guitarists. He engages youth in a way that makes them feel more joyous about music and more confident about life.

One night a guy who looked about 20-years-old handed Les Paul a white Fender Stratocaster, of all things, and asked him to sign it. With a grin that was more ironic than iconic, Mr. Paul wrote his name across the body, then handed the young man the guitar back, smiled brightly, and said: “Now you really got something there. Practice. Don’t ever give up.”

Vaya con Dios, Mr. Paul—I mean, Les.


Remembering Beatles Author Ray Coleman

Profile/Copyright © 2006 by Jim O’Donnell

When it came to trust, rock stars from Eric Clapton to John Lennon gave it in full to Ray Coleman, the British writer who died of cancer ten years ago, September 10, 1996, at his home in Middlesex, a county near London.

Coleman, who was 59, wrote authorized biographies of both Clapton and Lennon, as well as an authorized book with the Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman and, lastly, McCartney: Yesterday and Today, with Paul McCartney.

Considering how many rock writers would surrender their favorite air guitars in a heartbeat to get an hour with such rock royalty—let alone a book—it is a distinguished list indeed. But what is even more distinguishing is how Ray Coleman went about his work.

For while he would bend an ear to the legendary subjects of his books, he never bent a knee to them. That was one of the main reasons they worked with him and respected him. He did not fawn, grovel or otherwise kiss up to gain that much-sought-after access.

Rather, he listened. He observed. He researched. He noted. Then he wrote. Ernest Hemingway once said that the hardest thing about writing was to tell a story truly, and that was the edge on which Coleman cut his crystalline prose. Since he was a man of both compassion and honesty, he wrote carefully, yet candidly.

His subjects never saw a glimmering halo in his portraits. Yet they never accused him of inaccuracy or misrepresentation, either. He researched thoroughly, interviewed thoughtfully, and wrote tightly, so what they saw was a courageous attempt to get at the truth.

In turn, readers in many countries came to know that the Ray Coleman byline on a rock-star bio meant that you weren't getting pandering adoration or, conversely, hatchet-job sensationalism.

The readers sensed what the subjects knew: the man was a pro. He didn't kneel and he didn't hit. Coleman did the hard thing: he strove to write truly. He did it in his nine books; he did it as editor-in-chief of Britain's Melody Maker; and he did it as a contributor to publications ranging from Billboard to England's Daily Express.

Born on June 15, 1937, in Leicester in northern England, Ray worked at the Leicester Daily Mail when he was 15. He went on to report general news, crime and industrial affairs as a staffer with the Manchester Evening News and Brighton Evening Argus.

When he joined Britain’s weekly music paper Melody Maker in 1960, he maintained his detail-oriented, hard-news approach to reporting. In 1962 he became the first music journalist that Brian Epstein introduced to the Beatles. Over the years, he traveled the world with them, becoming a respected friend of the band.

Ray left Melody Maker in 1967 to edit its sister publication, the weekly Disc and Music Echo. In 1970 he returned as Editor-in-Chief to Melody Maker where his objective journalism and incisive interviewing techniques would transform the state of pop music writing in England.

Any semblance to gushing fan writing would give way to tightly-constructed pieces built around fact, observation and quotes.

Besides reporting on major groups, such as the Beatles, Ray also had an eye for upcoming talent and trends. During the 70’s, Melody Maker gave banner-headline ink to the early careers of performers such as Queen, Elton John, Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin. In the process, Ray also started a monthly magazine, Black Music, to recognize the impact of reggae.

He left Melody Maker in 1979 to embark on a career as a freelance writer and biographer. As a journalist and author, he won Britain’s Editor of the Year and Writer of the Year awards in national competitions.

Ray was the first journalist to receive the Gold Badge of Merit from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. He was working on a biography of Phil Collins at the time of his death.

At a party, in front of several people, Paul McCartney once said to Ray Coleman: “We never could turn you on, could we, Ray?”

By avoiding the drugs and other excesses of life on the road, Ray’s clear memory, work ethic and appetite for the truth were deeply treasured.

He was one of the few people ever to get Cynthia Lennon and Yoko Ono to agree on something important about John Lennon—which was that he should write Lennon’s authorized biography. From previous experience, both women knew that Ray would write truly and help them remember truly.

Ray also strove to help his peers write—and live—truly. I, for one, never understood how he could turn out so much top-shelf work and, in the process, give so much of himself to other writers.

In my long, cherished friendship with him, he never refused to listen to a story idea, read my stuff, ferret out a source, or commiserate over publishing woes (more often mine than his).

And this was a guy on a first-name basis with John Lennon! Whatever was he doing, bothering with my sloppy copy? Through the years, I discovered that he was a mentor to quite a few writers all over the world.

As with his writing, so it was with his mentoring: what distinguished Ray Coleman was not just the number of people, but more so how he went about things. In a business of loudness, he never raised his voice. In a world of gossip, he never talked badly about his colleagues or their work. He was invariably kind, gracious and generous beyond measure.

On a stayover at my home in New Jersey a few years ago, Ray reached into a bookshelf and removed his biography of John Lennon. I recall thinking of John's line, "Just give me some truth," and how Ray had worked himself to the bone to give John the truthful portrait he deserved.

Ray held the book in his hands a few seconds and stared at the cover. Then a warm smile filled his face. I interrupted his thoughts by snapping a picture. He looked up.

"Memories of John?" I asked.

He nodded.

"Wonderful memories," said one of the very few people who had ever seen life through the fabled eye of the Beatle hurricane. "Wonderful memories of all of them. There was so much laughter. So much music. So much great music. And so much life."

Ray's own life turned around in late 1995 with a four-hour operation during which a cancerous kidney was removed. He described himself afterwards as being at "30% energy"—which was still a good deal faster than most people at 100%.

Unfortunately, the cancer spread during 1996. In my last conversation with him, he was having trouble breathing. There was a tumor pressing against his lung. He talked about how his wife Pamela was, as he put it, "a tower of strength" in attending to him before and after his several operations in the past year. He also talked a bit about his two sons, Miles and Mark.

Then he asked me how a book I was working on was progressing, and if he could be of any further assistance. Here he was, heading for his last moments, and he wanted to help.

It reminded me of how so many of the truly great ones—from Michelangelo to Sandy Koufax—are so gifted that they don't just run their race and win it; they also keep an eye on everyone running with them, and they stop and go back if someone is down.

They dust him off, see if he's all right, and get him started again. Then they start again, graciously, and regain the lead with the speed of the 1966 Beatles leaving Candlestick Park.

When one sees such a rare race, the kindness is even more dazzling than the talent.


Song: The Beatles, “In My Life,” Norwegian Wood. Capitol Records, 1965.
Book: Ray Coleman, Lennon: The Definitive Biography. Harper, 1992.
Website: http://www.ray-coleman.com