PETER CLIFTON lost track of his film on the Easybeats for more than 40 years.
As a 21-year-old director from the northern beaches, he spent three weeks travelling around Britain with the great Australian rock band in 1967, filming them performing their international hit Friday On My Mind, being chased by teenage girls down Carnaby Street, visiting the pirate broadcaster Radio Caroline, playing football with the Small Faces and singing a rock version of the traditional Scottish song Loch Lomond - wearing kilts, no less - by Loch Ness.
It was a rare insight into a band Clifton says was ''bigger in Australia than the Beatles'' at the time.
But when he sent the 52-minute film for processing before a planned screening on the ABC, disaster struck. First, the negative was damaged, which meant two sequences had to be dropped and others shortened. Then the film, Easy Come, Easy Go, just disappeared. ''Nobody could ever find the negative or the print,'' Clifton says.
Within two years, the Easybeats had broken up. The lead singer, Stevie Wright, started a solo career that included another huge hit, Evie (parts 1, 2 and 3), before well-documented problems with alcohol and heroin. His fellow band members Harry Vanda and George Young found further success writing songs, including Evie, and producing for AC/DC.
In Britain, Clifton went on filming bands, including Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, the Beach Boys, Jim Morrison, the Bee Gees and the Sex Pistols.
It took an approach by an author writing a book about the Easybeats for Clifton to find his lost film. ''It turned out somebody stole it and took it to America.''
With out-takes from his library and funding from the National Film and Sound Archive, Clifton has restored a 35-minute version of Easy Come, Easy Go. It will be screened for the first time at the Sydney Film Festival, which opens with the comedy Not Suitable For Children on Wednesday.
Easy Come, Easy Go will be shown at the Sydney Film Festival with Searching For Sugar Man on June 14.