After frustrating legal battles that accompanied the recording of 1975's Sabotage, Sabbath chose Miami's Criteria Studios for the making of Technical Ecstasy, which continued the band's separation from the doom and darkness that had been a trademark of their earlier albums. "Some people may have heard the band in 1970," noted Iommi, "and be thinking, 'Oh no, not them again!' But if they heard us now, they probably might like us."
In the July 2001 issue of Guitar World, Dan Epstein wrote, "The sessions proved extremely relaxing for everyone except Iommi, who was left to oversee the production while the others sunned themselves on the beach." Iommi explained to the same magazine in 1992, "We recorded the album in Miami, and nobody would take responsibility for the production. No one wanted to bring in an outside person for help, and no one wanted the whole band to produce it. So they left it all to me!"
In the liner notes to the band's 1998 live album Reunion, Phil Alexander writes that, while the band struggled to finish the album, "rock had spawned a new set of iconoclasts as the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Damned… Suddenly Sabbath found themselves both unsure of their musical direction and labeled as has-beens." "It's not like now: If you're a heavy metal band, you put out a heavy metal album," Butler explained to Uncut in 2014. "Back then, you had to at least try to be modern and keep up. Punk was massive then and we felt that our time had come and gone."
To make matters worse for the band, manager Don Arden began spending more of his time focusing on another of his acts, ELO, whose 1975 album Face The Music was their first to make the US top ten. Iommi's determination to move Sabbath in a new direction was misguided according to some, with Mick Wall noting in the 2013 book Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe that while future soft rock million-sellers Hotel California and Rumours were just around the corner, "to try and force that sound on Black Sabbath was like trying to put lamb's wool on a suit of armour. It just didn't work, pleasing nobody."
In his autobiography I Am Ozzy, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne admitted he had begun to consider leaving the band during this time: "I'd even had a T-shirt made with 'Blizzard of Ozz' written on the front. Meanwhile, in the studio, Tony (Iommi) was always saying, 'We've gotta sound like Foreigner', or 'We've gotta sound like Queen.' But I thought it was strange that the bands we'd once influenced were now influencing us." Osbourne also wrote that the cost of recording in Florida "was astronomical" and that he'd "lost the plot with the booze and the drugs" during the recording of Technical Ecstasy, eventually checking himself into the Stafford County Asylum on his return to England.
"That was the beginning of the end, that one", bassist Geezer Butler confessed to Guitar World in 2001. "We were managing ourselves because we couldn't trust anybody. Everybody was trying to rip us off, including the lawyers we'd hired to get us out of our legal mess. It was really just getting to us around then, and we didn't know what we were doing. And obviously, the music was suffering; you could just feel the whole thing falling apart." Osbourne briefly left following the Technical Ecstasy Tour – and, although he would eventually return for the follow-up Never Say Die!, the band temporarily replaced him with former Savoy Brown vocalist Dave Walker. The band wrote a handful of songs with Walker, and performed an early version of what would become "Junior's Eyes" on the BBC programme Look Hear with him.
While the band were recording the album, The Eagles were recording Hotel California in an adjacent studio at Criteria Studios in Miami. "Before we could start recording we had to scrape all the cocaine out of the mixing board," Geezer divulged to Uncut in 2014. "I think they'd left about a pound of cocaine in the board." The Eagles were forced to stop recording on numerous occasions because Sabbath were too loud and the sound was coming through the wall.