One of the most influential figures in contemporary African music, Franco’s achievements, up until his death in 1989, were impressive. He formed the 10-piece band OK Jazz in 1956, expanding it to a 23-piece orchestra by the late '70s. He recorded some 180 albums; created a rhythm, rumba odemba (a faster variant of traditional rumba that became a permanent part of Zairean music); and ran three successful record labels, Edipop, Visa 80 and Choc. In the mid '80s, OK Jazz toured the USA for the first time and played a stunning London concert. Plans for repeat visits were cancelled after illness forced Franco to limit his activities.