François Luambo Makiadi
Birth name François Luambo Luanzo Makiadi
Also known as Franco
Born July 6, 1938
Sona-Bata, Lukaya District, Belgian Congo
(modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Died October 12, 1989 (aged 51)
Mont-Godinne, Province of Namur, Belgium
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, guitarist
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.
1 Formative years
2 The 1980s
3 TPOK Jazz
He was born in 1938 in what was then the Belgian Congo. His mother had a market stall in Ngiri-Ngiri, and he played harmonica and other instruments to help attract customers.
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.
In 1980, Franco was named a Grand Master of Zairean music by the Mobutu 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 his older lovers.
He died in 1989, resulting in four days of national mourning in Zaire.
Main article: TPOK Jazz
His band, TPOK Jazz dominated Congolese music from 1956 until 1989.
The Rough Guide to Congo Gold (2008, World Music Network)