François Luambo Makiadi
|Franco Luambo Luanzo Makiadi|
|Birth name||François Luambo Makiadi|
|Also known as||Franco|
|Born||July 6, 1938|
|Died||October 12, 1989(aged 51)|
|Occupations||Singer, songwriter, guitarist|
|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 
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.
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.
The 1980s 
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.
In 1985, Franco released his biggest hit ever, Mario, an account of a gigolo who lives off of his older lover.
In 1987 rumors began to circulate that Franco was very ill. The only solo composition he released that year was "Attention Na SIDA" ("Beware of AIDS"), a warning to avoid catching the disease, leading to unconfirmed speculation that he had contracted HIV. He began to withdraw his energies from OK Jazz, causing the band to begin to disintegrate under internal tensions, and reconverted from Islam to Roman Catholicism. On 12 October 1989 Franco died while in a Belgian clinic. His body was flown back to Zaire where his coffin was transported on a flag-draped hearse with police escort through streets packed with thousands of grieving fans. The government declared four days of national mourning during which state radio played nothing but Franco's songs. On 17 October he was buried.
Band members 
Franco, Vicky Longomba and De La Lune Lubelo with...
the band included:
the band included:
In the 1980s, the key vocalists included Madilu Bailu, Josky Kiambukuta, Aime Kiwakana, Lola Checain, Ya Ntesa Dalienst, Malage de Lugendo, Djo Mpoyi, Diatho Lukoki, Wuta Mayi, Michel Boyibanda, Ndombe Opetum, Lassa Calyto and Lokombe Ntal. Many times OK Jazz invited other artists to be part of the huge but immensely important vocal section.
See also 
Further reading 
- 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
- Discography of Franco & OK Jazz
- A fan page for Franco and OK Jazz describing events decade by decade
- AllMusic.com Entry on Franco
- Franco de Mi Amor, The Village Voice, 2 July 2001
- 1983 Interview with Franco
- The Undying Legend of King of Rumba Music, Luambo Luanzo Makiadi
- Liner notes from Francophonic - Vol. 1: 1953-1980 by Ken Braun / Sterns Music