Once more, millions of Rhumba fans are commemorating the death of Franco Luambo Luanzo Makiadi, one of the world’s greatest musicians of the 20th century.
After his untimely demise in 1989, his legacy lives on. He exited the world stage at the modest age of 51.
Many wonder with nostalgia just how much richer the Rhumba genre of music would be today if Franco had remained alive.
At the tender age of 15, Franco had already released his first recording.
Although the legendary Joseph Kabassele had been his greatest inspiration in the early years of his career, Franco was simply unique.
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From 1956 when he formed the mercurial TPOK Jazz Band, Franco churned out hit after hit, reaching the peak in the 1980s when he split the band into two. The Kinshasa group was placed under the veteran Lutumba Simaro while Franco himself led the Brussels-based group.
What made the maestro stand out of the crowded Lingala music field of the 1970s and 80s was his unmatched originality, charisma, unique mastery of the guitar and leadership acumen.
To date, hardly a day passes without a local radio station playing his music. Truly, Franco was a music genius.