Porcaro has recorded with Natalie Cole, Don Ellis, Stan Getz, Freddie Hubbard, Gladys Knight, Madonna, The Monkees, Gerry Mulligan, Pink Floyd, Howard Roberts, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, and Sarah Vaughan. He has done film scores with James Newton Howard, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Danny Elfman, John Frizzell and his son Steve Porcaro. With educator and drummer Ralph Humphrey, he was one of the founders of the Los Angeles Music Academy (LAMA) in Pasadena, California, which is now called the Los Angeles College of Music (LACM).
His three sons were in the rock band Toto: drummer Jeff Porcaro (1954–1992), bassist Mike Porcaro (1955–2015), and keyboardist Steve Porcaro (b. 1957), who still is a session musician and programmer. Joe contributied additional percussion to every Toto album from Turn Back through Kingdom of Desire. He has a daughter, Joleen Porcaro Duddy, (actress and designer), whose children, Chase and Paige Duddy, formed the electronic duo XYLO.
Porcaro has led a group with Emil Richards, a native of Hartford who plays vibraphone and collects percussion instruments from around the world.