Papa Wemba was performing at the Urban Music Festival in the Ivory Coast on Saturday night. Video from the event shows the singer collapsed on the floor while a group of women danced in front of him.
Eventually, they and others on the stage rushed to his aid. He was later taken to a nearby clinic, where he was pronounced dead. The exact cause of his collapse has not been confirmed.
"It is a great loss for Congo and for all of Africa," Congo's cultural minister said after Papa Wemba's death. "He was a self-made man, a role model for Congolese youth."
The singer's spokesman, Henri Noel Mbuta Vokia, originally thought the collapse was part of the performance. Vokia had been watching the concert on television.
"I then saw the Red Cross workers rushing on to the stage," Vokia told Telegraph. "Then the Ivorian television signal was cut. I tried to call his manager Cornelie abroad. He told me he collapsed in the middle of the concert."
Watch video of Papa Wemba's collapse.
Vokia continued: "He was transferred to hospital. I called back ten minutes later and was told he was in intensive care. I called back 30 minutes later and Cornelie told me Papa Wemba had passed on."
Papa Wemba first rose to fame as a member of the Congo group Zaiko Langa Langa. He later moved to France, where he and his new group Viva La Musica helped popularize Congolese music in Europe. He even toured with Peter Gabriel in the 1990s.
Papa Wemba wasn't just a musical icon in Africa. He also popularized the Sapeur fashion movement, which was characterized by lavish clothes like fedoras, leather shoes, and three-piece suits. Before his death, Papa Wemba said his outfits were inspired by his parents, who were "always well-put-together, always looking very smart."
What are your favorite memories of Papa Wemba? Let us know your take in the comments section below.