Born Francoise Luambo Makiadi in DRC 1938 was playing guitar by age 7, and became one of the biggest names in African Music by the early 1960's. Dude has such an interesting history, not only was a great entrepreneur (he owned property and businesses in Belgium, France and the DRC), he united a majority of Africa through his music.
I can remember going to parties and hearing his music when I was younger. If you went to a party at that time and didn't hear a Franco song...then the party probably sucked:-)
The down side to his popularity was that he became close alies with Mobubtu Seseseko and his rich friends, and so he lost touch with sending out great political messages. The other tragedy also was that it is suspected that he died from complications of HIV/AIDS at age 51 in 1989. The rumors about his condition began to heavily circulate after his last song 'Attention na SIDA'(Beware of AIDS), and the fact that he went from a hefty 300 pounds to probably 160 pounds-ish.
You might wonder why I am writting about him today, well I bought one of his 'best of' CD collections, and I have had much attention from my Zambia and Congolese circles. They would all like me to boot-leg it for them. The funny thing is, I love the song 'Mario' (in the video above- press red x if it doesn't show) and for ages I thought it was like a semi-romantic song seeing as my Lingala starts and stops at the word 'bolingo' (love). I was recently informed that the song is actually about a sugar mummy and her young boyfriend. She buys him everything, and pays for most things that his family needs and one day he hits her... and she explains to him that it is wrong to hit her because she uses skin bleaching creams and she is now too fair skinned to be hit as it leaves a lot of bruising-lol. I found it quite interesting. I just enjoy the performances put on by Franco and the TPOK jazz's, it's far from what Congolaise music has become-- who's dancer shakes her ass the best:-) c'est dommage!!!
I love African music from an older generation because of the messages they carried and the fact that a lot of them played their own instruments. For Zambia I can talk about Alick Nkhata, Paul Ngozi, Professor P.K Chishala, the Mulemena boys! The thing with Zambian music these days is that we have lost touch with the roots of 'Zambian' music. There is a lot of stuff in vernacular which is well and good, but it's mostly R&B in a Zambian language and not Zambian music per se. I wish I could hear more instruments being played by the singer or his/ her band and not all that piano synthesized stuff. How about utilizing the drums, the xylophone, the kalimba, msekese (haha)...etc. Many other African musicians are doing that today..i.e the beautiful music from Mali, or even our neighbor Oliver Mtukudzi (love him!). Zambian voices are beautiful...but we have to stop trying to compete with the wester market and try to perfect the traditional sounds already available to us. While on that point it would be wrong of me to forget to complement Angela Nyirenda because I think she is one of the few to stray from R&B.
I realise this should have been 2 posts...but it's my blog and I felt lazy to open another page...sue me:-)
Oh and thanks Diva for the news about the stampede in Zambia...that was one of those bitter sweet stories-- sweet in that Zambia won the soccer game 3-0, and bitter that 12 soccer fans died in the process. http://msn.foxsports.com/soccer/story/6881462