The oldest of 14 children, Bonner ran away as a young teen from his hometown of Hamilton, Ohio to seek fame and fortune. As a way to survive, the young musician played the harmonica for change on street corners. Bonner managed to team up with former members of a group called The Ohio Untouchables to launch the R&B funk band, the Ohio Players in 1964.
As a founding member of the chart-topping group, Bonner was a familiar face, always front and center amongst the band members. The Ohio Players with their flamboyant costumes, brow-raising album cover art and heavy brass section had seven Top 40 hits, “Skin Tight,” “Love Rollercoaster” and “Fire,” which are classics that still manage to move a crowd.