He was born Francois Luambo Makiadi on July
6 1938 in the village of Sona-Bata , in the Bas Zaire region. His father
, Joseph Emongo was a railroad worker while his mother sold home made
bread at the local market. He began his musical career at a tender age.
By age 7, he had already built his first home made guitar. He played the
guitar to attract customers to his mother's market stall.
talent was first tapped by guitarist Paul Ebengo Dewayon who took him
under his wing and taught him the subtleties of guitar playing. Franco
made his professional debut in Dewayon's Watam band at age 12. While at
the band He wowed audiences with his exemplary guitar skills while
playing a guitar which was almost as big as himself. He cut his first
solo record titled Bolingo na ngai na Beatrice ( my love for
Beatrice) in 1953.
In 1956 along with Jean Serge Essous , He formed the band OK Jazz
which was later to be renamed TPOK Jazz. Two years later when Essous
left the band, He took over as band leader and never looked back. The
band grew from the original 6 members to over 50 members 30 years later.
For over 30 years He recorded prolifically and performed for audiences
the world over, while maintaining a distinct style. His band dominated
the charts and produced over 150 albums most of which sold over 50,000
Franco had several marriages which resulted in 18
children of which 17 were girls.
He died on October 12 1989 leaving a huge
legacy Today, several decades after his passing, Franco and TP OK Jazz
songs remain among the most popular songs based on CD sales and radio