James Blades, a symphonic percussionist whose most widely heard work was banging out “V for victory” for the BBC’s World War II broadcasts, died May 19 at his home in Cheam, England. He was 97.

Blades’ recording of the Morse code for “V” was played up to 150 times a day at the start of BBC broadcasts to occupied Europe.

He also recorded the sound of the gong that was featured in the opening credits of films by the J. Arthur Rank studios.

Blades began his drumming career in a circus, then in cinemas. During the war he began playing with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He later joined the English Opera Group, the Aldeburgh Festival and the English Chamber Orchestra.

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