The Rockin’ Dogs

Dave Ellison: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric), Vocals | Sam Wilson: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric), Vocals | Cole Smithey: Drums | Jane Bunting: Bass guitar, Vocals

Genre: Alternative, Punk, Rock

Sound description: The power of the MC5 and the Sex Pistols, the soul of Howlin’ Wolf and Hank Williams.

RIYL: Johnny Thunders, Gun Club, Noise 292, the Wallflowers, the Answers, Hair Theatre

No shows scheduled | Post a show |


Inception: Poway, 1981

Influences: Johnny Thunders, Gun Club, Johnny Cash, T Rex, Howlin’ Wolf, Noise 292, the Wallflowers, the Answers, Hair Theatre


The Rockin’ Dogs were part of the early-’80s Ché Cafe scene, starting in Poway with singers/songwriters/lead guitarists Sam Wilson and Dave Ellison. Having played together since entering high school, they developed their signature blend of rock, folk, and blues amidst numerous lineup changes until solidifying with drummer Cole Smithey and bassist Jane Bunting in 1982.

By 1983, the Rockin’ Dogs were performing all over San Diego at venues like the Jackie Robinson YMCA, Gaslamp Quarter Theater, Bodie's, Rock Palace, Club Cult, Spirit, and the Zebra Club. Ellison departed the band in early 1985, and the Rockin’ Dogs disbanded permanently later that year.

Dave Ellison went on to form the Wild Desires, with drummer Jack Gamboa and bassist Andy Sidelinger. He’s currently an art director and designer living and working in the Los Angeles area. Sam Wilson played gigs as a member of the Wallflowers and later joined Hair Theatre, replacing guitarist Paul Allen. He now resides in the Midwest with his family. Cole Smithey is a film critic in New York. Jane Bunting’s whereabouts are, at this writing, unknown.

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