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 spines.
In August of that year Franco and TPOK Jazz was among the several musicians invited to perform in the 4th All Africa games concert , the biggest concert in Kenya's music history. The concert featured musicians from All over Africa including Cameroun's Sam fan Thomas and Zambian songbird Anna Mwale.
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 Bambo and Nana Akumu at 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.
Even though the band was still going strong, their popularity was reducing in large part due to the emergence of faster more up-tempo dance styles such as Kwasa-kwasa and Soukous which were perpertrated by among others Pepe Kalle , Kanda Bongo-man and Aurlus Mabele. The emergence of this faster more diluted dance styles which all but got rid of the wind section and emphasised the solo guitar as well as drums saw most Lingala fans gravitate away from TPOK Jazz ,Afrisa and other bands which were now referred to as old school.
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.
Franco and Sam Mangwana as they appear on the album sleeve
The first track on the album titled Toujours OK (always OK) was sung in Lingala and broken Kiswahili. Franco had now grown distant from the running of the band which was torn apart by internal bickering. Despite being beset by these problems , the band continued to stage concerts in Franco's absence. Franco was now too frail to perform on stage let alone withstand gruelling recording sessions which lasted for hours ,days and even weeks. he was now hospitalised at a Belgian clinic.
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.