Over 100 fans and loved ones gathered in the parking lot of Corinthian Lounge in Windsor Mill on Thursday evening to pay their respects to Chris Tittle, a regionally renowned DJ who performed under the name DJ Sugar Chris.
According to Wylie Funeral Home in West Baltimore, which hosted Tittle’s funeral service on Friday, the late DJ was born in December 1957 and died Oct. 5. Although family members couldn’t specifically attribute the cause of his death as of Thursday night, a post on his Facebook page from late September announced his diagnosis with COVID-19.
According to numerous attendees, Tittle developed a specialty over several decades of DJing (including for a time at Magic 95.9) in soul, funk and other music styles from the 1960s through the 1980s. His sets at places like Corinthian and Melba’s Place in Baltimore City were well regarded for that “old school” mix of songs, and many of his events compelled sing-alongs from the audiences. According to a friend and collaborator in the DJing world, Saku “DJ Boom” Singletary, this helped Tittle reach an untapped demographic of older Generation X listeners.
“You either got the young crowd up here, or the super old crowd, okay, so where’s the middle? ... He definitely was a pioneer in [creating] that [listening space], most certainly, and his legacy will definitely live on through me, for sure,” Singletary said.
Singletary and others who knew Tittle through music also said that he mentored other DJs.
“He just wanted to see me succeed, and he didn’t want me to complain, talking about or disrespecting other DJs. He just wanted me to remain myself and be humble around everybody, and that’s the kind of guy he was," Steve “DJ Unique” Green, his godson, said in a phone interview prior to the vigil. “If you was a DJ and you needed his help, he would help. He looked out for a lot of DJs. But I was one that was there with him every step of the way up until his passing. These two weeks just felt real uncomfortable without me talking to him on the phone.”
“He was a father, he was a brother, he was an uncle, he was a cousin to somebody, and his friendship mattered,” said DJ Davey D at the vigil as a steady bass drum beat played out of someone’s car. “When you were friends with him, it was a bond.”
Those in attendance also included members of his family like Tyra Tittle Barksdale, Tittle’s oldest daughter. She said he was caring and supportive of all the people he loved.
“Growing up, he was a great dad, and he still was a great dad up into my adulthood,” Barksdale said. “Always loving, caring, wanting to bring joy to others, and just a real go-getter that really loved people and wanted to see the best out of everyone."
His penchant for sharing joy extended to those he befriended. Sherry Williams-Smith, a friend of 12 years, met Tittle and his wife through her husband, who’s also involved in the local music industry. She recalled a recurring joke Tittle would make about her once getting tater tots during a shared meal.
“We went on a double date, his wife and him and me and my husband,” she recalled. “We were at TGI Friday’s, and you know how they have the all-you-can-eat appetizers? We had all-you-can-eat appetizers, and he came over like he was going to get the bill, so I hopped up and said, ‘I gotta get some more tater tots!’ And he just busted out laughing.
“Every time we come up here [to Corinthian’s] to listen to his music and everything, and I’m going to the door, here he come, ‘Sherry! I want some more tater tots! Are you gonna order some more tater tots?’