*''Initial line-up:'' Steve Wynn (vocals and guitar); Karl Precoda (guitar); Kendra Smith (bass); Dennis Duck (drums).
*''Final line-up:'' Wynn, Duck, Paul B. Cutler (guitar), Mark Walton (bass).
While attending the University of California, Davis, Wynn and Smith played together (with future True West (band) members Russ Tolman and Gavin Blair) in The Suspects. Moving back home to Los Angeles, Wynn recorded a single under the name 15 Minutes (as in “of fame”) as his intended farewell to music. He did not follow that course. Rehearsing in a band called Goat Deity, Wynn met Precoda, who had answered an ad for a bass player, and the two joined to form a new group, with Precoda switching to guitar. Smith came to play bass, and brought in drummer Dennis Duck, who had played in the locally successful, Pasadena-based Human Hands.
Duck suggested the name "The Dream Syndicate," a reference to Tony Conrad's early 1960s New York experimental ensemble (better known as The Theater of Eternal Music), whose members included John Cale.