Music legends size up punk’s roots and ever-rocking influence

If you want to visit CBGB, the grimy birthplace of New York’s punk scene, bring a credit card. The Bowery haunt that incubated Patti Smith and Talking Heads has been cleaned up and transformed into a ritzy John Varvatos boutique where leather jackets run upwards of $1,000.

Nevertheless, Varvatos is doing his best to keep alive the spirit of three-chords-and-a-big-attitude. His store maintains as much of the CBGB vibe as possible — Varvatos left graffiti-splashed walls unaltered — and he executive produced “Punk,” a four part Epix documentary (Monday at 10 p.m). “I wanted to tell the story [of punk] across multiple generations in a way that had never been done,” he tells The Post.

For Varvatos, 63, “Punk” is a passion project that traces back to his youth in Detroit. “I was captivated by what [Iggy Pop’s band] the Stooges and [proto punks] the MC5 did sonically and visually,” the fashion designer says. “They were so opposed to everything in the market and on the radio. They would blow your face off and make you want to dance.”

Early on, he imbued “Punk” with credibility by bringing in Iggy Pop as a co-executive producer. Upon the rocker’s arrival, dozens of punk’s big names agreed to be interviewed. There’s John Lydon, nee Rotten, of Sex Pistols fame, bemoaning the death of band-mate Sid Vicious — Lydon glumly admits to introducing Vicious to the girlfriend who got him addicted to heroin before Vicious allegedly murdered her and later ODed on the drug. Debbie Harry, front-woman of Blondie, recounts the early days of being a new-music scenester in 1970s New York. “We were trying to find our niche,” she says, recalling hanging with the Ramones and tooling around in her old Camaro. “I think I almost ran one of them down one night. That’s when they took me seriously.”

‘They would blow your face off and make you want to dance.’

Varvatos says he and his collaborators aimed to avoid turning “Punk” into “old farts” recalling faded glory days. While there’s no shortage of wrinkled faces recounting loud adventures, the final installment is studded with up and coming punk performers keeping the flame alive. Bands like Pretty Vicious, F—k U Pay Us and Exotica, says Varvatos, “are seeing things going on in the world and reacting to all of it with music.”

Varvatos was in college in 1977 when he and a posse of friends first sojourned to CBGB. They drove in from Eastern Michigan University to see the Ramones log a blistering set. Walking along the pre-gentrified Bowery to a club with a flophouse upstairs — the Palace Hotel housed sleep-deprived hobos who had a habit of dumping cold water on the vociferous punks hanging out below — he remembers being simultaneously excited and scared. “I had goose bumps as I walked in,” he says. “The fans were more like disciples.”

“Punk” takes viewers from punk’s Motor City roots to New York, London, LA and beyond. An overriding thread is the DIY nature of it all. Members of LA’s hardcore titans Black Flag recall that it was impossible to get gigs early on, and they resorted to playing shows in the living room of a band-member’s home for an audience of six.

“The idea was that you did not need to wait for permission; you made your own rules.”

“Punk” docuseries premieres at 10 p.m. Monday on Epix

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