'That's what I'll remember the most: the camaraderie we had'

'That's what I'll remember the most: the camaraderie we had'
A photo of Bill Finneran at the 2010 Whiteaker Block Party - Photo by Cathy Higgins Trimble

EUGENE, Ore. -- Getting to spend hours digging through countless crates packed full of records is one of the reasons why many local vinyl lovers put the Eugene Record Convention on their calendar a year in advance.

Over the last quarter century, founder Bill Finneran built the annual convention into the largest vinyl record gathering in the Pacific Northwest.

On Oct. 1, Bill Finneran passed away from cancer. He was 62.

Longtime friend and fellow vinyl aficionado Marc Time said Finneran possessed a wealth of music knowledge.

"Bill and I had the same idea about music - listening to music is a very personal thing," said Time, host of KWVA's Sunday Morning Hangover show.

Bill's love of music was one of the driving forces that inspired the inaugural convention in 1988.

"It came about when he and a friend were thinking 'Gee, every other town has a convention. Why not Eugene?'" Time said.

During its 25 year run, the convention saw a steady increase in popularity. In the last decade, vendors from across the nation consistently filled the Eugene Hilton with over 100,000 albums for record enthusiasts to search through. 

Skip Hermans, owner of Skip's Vinyl and CD World in West Eugene, said the resurgence of vinyl records could be seen as the Eugene Record Convention gained popularity.

"Six years ago it was big, now he sells it out every time. And the convention is packed," Hermans said. "Bill was one of those guys that believed the vinyl culture never ended, and never began again. There's a lot of us that kept buying vinyl even though the record companies tried to get rid of it."

Both Time and Hermans met Finneran through the Eugene Record Convention. 

"He could talk music," Hermans said. "Although he never worked in a record store, he had the knowledge of someone who lived in a record store for years." | Watch an interview with Bill Finneran

"That's what I'll remember the most: the camaraderie we had. It's great to sit and talk records with someone, especially when you could learn something. And every time we talked I managed to learn something."

Family and friends of are meeting Friday night for a celebration of Finneran's life and legacy at Happy Hours bar on River Road.

Despite being good friends, Marc Time said Finneran's quiet nature rarely allowed him to delve into his past. Aside from some rumors that the Detroit-native was a roadie for big name acts in the 70's, Time hadn't heard much about Finneran's life before he landed in Eugene.

Marc Time (left) talks to Skip Hermans before an interview Wednesday

Marc said that Bill's quiet nature carried into how he handled the convention.

"Over the last few years of the convention he would point a lot of the interviews to me. He avoided all that," said Marc. "He opened up the convention because he wanted to give everyone a place for their music."

"He was a really generous guy," Marc continued. "He'd find things, and if he knew you collected a certain type of thing he'd just give it to you."

"He always remembered what things were into," added Hermans. "He was one of those guys that knew so much about music, but never judged anybody on what they listened to." 

Time said the convention became a year-round project for his friend.

"Laurie (Penny), Bill's girlfriend came in to help him out, Bob Finneran (Bill's brother), His son, Ian Finneran, along with a bunch of friends, so it became a family affair of sorts," said Time.

After Bill's passing, the convention was passed down to his son, Ian. There has been no definite word on whether it will continue into the future. Marc said the 26th annual event is scheduled to take place Feb. 9, 2014.