Franco Luambo Makiadi

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François Luambo Makiadi
Birth name François Luambo Luanzo Makiadi
Also known as Franco
Born (1938-07-06)July 6, 1938
Died October 12, 1989(1989-10-12) (aged 51)
Genres Rumba
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, guitarist
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1950-1980s
Associated acts OK Jazz, TPOK Jazz

François Luambo Luanzo Makiadi (6 July 1938 – 12 October 1989) was a major figure in twentieth century Congolese music, and African music in general. He is widely referred to as Franco Luambo or, simply, Franco. Known for his mastery of rumba, he was nicknamed the "Sorcerer of the Guitar" for his seemingly effortlessly fluid playing. As a founder of the seminal group OK Jazz, he is counted as one of the originators of the modern Congolese sound.

Formative years[edit]

He was born in 1938. His mother had a market stall in Ngiri-Ngiri, and he played harmonica and other instruments to help attract customers.[1]

In 1955 Franco formed a band that debuted in the OK Bar. The following year the band was renamed OK Jazz in honour of the place it had begun.[2]

In 1958, Franco was jailed for a motoring offense, but by then had already become a star in Léopoldville and crowds of fans enthusiastically greeted the release of their rebel anti-hero. This was a time of growing national confidence and Congo was moving towards the independence that would come in 1960. Despite violence and instability accompanying the transition to independence, Leopoldville grew with migrants from the countryside and its nightlife continued to thrive.In 1960 Longomba left OK Jazz, leaving Franco as undisputed leader, of an enlarged band.[3]

The 1980s[edit]

In 1980, Franco was named a Grand Master of Zairean music by the government, an honor that linked him with the ruling elite that was responsible for much of the economic problems beggaring the country. The subject of his songs shifted dramatically in this period to patriotic songs and praise songs to wealthy fans.

Franco only toured the USA on one occasion, in 1983.[4]

In 1985, Franco released his biggest hit ever, Mario, an account of a gigolo who lives off of his older lovers.

He died in 1989, resulting in four days of national mourning in Zaire.[2]


Contributing artist

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Al Angeloro (March 2005). "World Music Legends: Franco". Global Rhythm. Zenbu Media. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Franco: biography". allmusic. Rovi. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Brief Biography
  4. ^ Ted Giola. "The James Brown of Africa (Part One)". Retrieved 28 December 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Congo Colossus: Life and Legacy of Franco and OK Jazz by Graeme Ewens, Publisher: Buku P. (12 Oct 1994), ISBN 978-0-9523655-0-1
  • Gary Stewart (2000). Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos. Verso. ISBN 1859843689. 

External links[edit]