The Rockin’ Dogs started 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. Their debut "Bye Bye Bye" was released that same year.
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. Ellison later became 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 before relocating to the Midwest with his family. Cole Smithey became a film critic in New York. Jane Bunting’s whereabouts are, at this writing, unknown.
(Photo: Alan Clark)