Franco and TP OK Jazz in the late 1980s
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At the beginning of 1987, Franco recorded a
song which is considered the most intense 15 minutes ever recorded. The
song Attention La Sida (beware of Aids) was sung mainly in French
in order to reach a wider audience. Amid heavy drums and almost eerie
guitars ,Franco thundered out an emotional message ,talking about the
disease ,imploring mankind to be more careful in their relationships
,while urging governments to take further steps to fight the epidemic.
Even for those who could understand what was being said, Franco's
emotional, prophet like outburst sent shivers running through their
Eight other albums were released by the band that year, one of which was La response de Mario , Mario's response to the accusations placed on him by Franco. Others included Ekaba Kaba , a song about a certain tightwad businessman who pays his employees meagre wages while laying them off the job at a whim in order to maximize his profits. In the album Les On dit , Franco introduced two female vocalists , Nana Akumu and Baniel Bambo, the latter of whom had defected over form Afrisa much to Tabu Ley's bewilderement.
Franco posing with Baniel and Nana after a concert
The year ended with the riveting L' Animation non stop which featured a rendition of some of the bands earlier hits played to modern instrumentals and better recording.
By 1988 Franco had finally managed to convince Josky and Dalienst to return to the fold. Dalienst celebrated his return with the album Franco presente Ntessa Dalienst which featured Mamie Zou and Dodo. Josky followed this up with his own album which featured the extremely popular hit Mata-Kita-bloque (get up,get down,Jam). The album also featured a rendition of his early 80s hit Tokabola sentiment.By now Franco's health was already failing him. Rumours about his health abounded and spread like wildfire, fuelled by the fact that Franco now rarely appeared in public and when he appeared in concert, He only played at 20 minute intervals. Meanwhile franco kept everyone in the dark about the nature of his illness , claiming that doctors had been unable to diagnose his illness. He re-converted back to catholiscim from Islam and was once again baptised Francois Luambo Makiadi.
The rest of the TPOK jazz band members continued to record. In November the band released the album Couerr Artificiel featuring 4 compositions by Lutumba Simaro, among the songs in that album was Mangasa sung by Josky , Madilu and De Lugendo.
By 1989, TP OK Jazz was in serious turmoil. Leading band members such as Madilu and Josky decided to pursue projects outside the band infrastructure. Othere like Lugendo, Decca and Dizzy left the band and returned to Kinshasa to pursue other opportunities. Later that year, Franco once again teamed up with Sam Mangwana to release what turned out to be Franco's last recording. This album's label was Forever which was an eerie premonition of Franco's impending death. The album sleeve showed an upsetting picture of Franco having lost more than half of his weight and looking wrinkled and sickly.
Then on October 12 1989 came the shattering news. Franco had died in the wee hours of the morning. At his bedside were his sister Marie Louise , his wife Annie some of his children and some members of the band.