He was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina and studied at Virginia State College, but indicated that he learned more about music from musicians he worked with. In the seventies he played with Roy Haynes, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw and Billy Harper, among others.
|1974||The Lifesaver||Muse||Solo piano|
|1975||Triangle||Whynot||Trio, with Clint Houston (bass), Billy Hart (drums)|
|1974–76||Angel Eyes||Muse||With Billy Harper (tenor sax), Leroy Jenkins (violin), Juini Booth (bass), Jimmy Hopps (drums), Linda Sharrock (vocals)|
|1979||Parade||SteepleChase||Trio, with Johnny Dyani (bass), Billy Higgins (drums)|
|1981||Impressions of Copenhagen||Theresa||With Eddie Shu (trumpet), Holly Hofmann (flute), Carol Michalowski and Peggy Sullivan (violin), Carol Garrett (viola), Beverly Woolery (cello), Paul Warburton (bass), J. Thomas Tilton (drums)|
|1983||Suburban Fantasies||SteepleChase||Duo, with Johnny Dyani (bass)|
|1985||Suite for Chocolate||SteepleChase||With Khan Jamal (vibraphone), Jesper Lundgaard (bass), Leroy Lowe (drums)|
|1986||New Life||SteepleChase||Trio, with Hugo Rasmussen (bass), Aage Tanggaard (drums)|
|1987||The Lost Melody||SteepleChase||Quartet, with Bob Rockwell (tenor sax), Jesper Lundgaard (bass), Jukkis Uotila (drums)|
|1988?||New Beginnings||Evidence||Most tracks solo piano; some tracks duo, with unknown (bass)|
|1991||Monkisms||Capri||Solo piano; released around 2001|
|2001?||Lights Out||Akashic||As The Bonner Party; quartet, with Prasanna Bishop (saxes), Artie Moore-Acoustic (bass), Charles Ayash (drums)|
|2003||The Art of Jazz Piano||Black Orchard||Solo piano|
|2013?||Current Events||Cherry Sound|
- Two & One (Steeplechase); with Johnny Dyani (bass)
With Richard Davis
- Epistrophy & Now's the Time (Muse, 1972)
With Billy Harper
- Black Saint (Black Saint, 1975)
With Azar Lawrence
- Bridge into the New Age (Prestige, 1974)
With Barbara Paris
- Where Butterflies Play (Perea Productions, 1992)
- P.S. I Love You (Perea Productions, 12/10/2000)
- Happy Talk (Perea Productions, 2002)
With Pharoah Sanders
- Black Unity (Impulse!, 1971)
- Live at the East (Impulse!, 1972)
- Village of the Pharoahs (Impulse!, 1973)
- Elevation (Impulse!, 1973)
- Love in Us All (Impulse!, 1972–73)
- Journey to the One (Theresa, 1980)
- Rejoice (Theresa, 1981)
With Woody Shaw
- Love Dance (Muse, 1975)
With Harold Vick
- Don't Look Back (Strata-East, 1974)
With The Visitors
- Motherland (Muse, 1975)
With Stephanie Hancock
- This Happy Madness (DaJazz, 2001)
- Jeff Tamarkin (1 December 2014). "Pianist Joe Bonner Dies at 66". Jazz Times. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
- "Joseph Bonner, Jr. Obituary". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
- "Joe Bonner @ All About Jazz". All About Jazz. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
- "Joe Bonner". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
- Yanow, Scott. "Joe Bonner Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 April 2010.