The Algebra Mothers was formed mostly by classmates from Cass Tech, a Detroit high school with a long roster of notables, originally as kind of a gang of arty misfits which evolved into a band. The name came from classmate Ronald Edwards’s nightmare in which he envisioned a gang of teenage unwed mothers terrorizing people with math tools like t-squares and protractors. The dreamer said the gang in his dream called themselves the Algebra Mothers.
In its original run, the band played around Detroit from the 1978 through 1984 opening for various larger local and international acts during is time including Patti Smith, Pere Ubu, and The Police.
In 2018, Third Man Records issued an album of unreleased demos and live tracks from the Algebra Mothers as well as re-issued the band’s 1979 single “Strawberry Cheesecake” b/w “Modern Noise”. To celebrate, the band played a show at the Third Man Records Cass Corridor store. The band played live in studio at WDET in August 2018 – the interview/performance can be heard here.
Various members of the Algebra Mothers went on to other bands. Immediately following his time in the A-Moms, Dave Rice formed The Blind and later L-Seven. Ralph Valdez went on to join Retro and then worked on WDET’s Dimension program before landing his own music show on the station. Larry Rosa was also a member of Retro for a time. Dan Ruetnik went to form, with two siblings, the band Art in America which had a major label deal with Sony in the early 1980s. Cherry Blackwolf joined The Sillies around 1981. Following the end of the Algebra Mothers in 1984, Gerald Collins would go on to form the band Jeecy and The Jungle.