At one point during the sessions, it was decided that a double album was to be released: one album of covers and another of original material.
With Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar having left the Beach Boys since their previous album Holland (1973), 15 Big Ones was recorded at a time when the group were struggling with their creative direction.
Responding to the unexpected success of the greatest hits compilation Endless Summer (1974), Brian Wilson, who had not been credited as producer for any of the band's albums since Pet Sounds (1966), was brought into commandeering the 15 Big Ones sessions.
Discussing Brian's production, Carl said: "Once we had finished a certain batch of songs, Brian said, 'That's it.
Put it out.' That's why the album sounds unfinished.
Whatever the case, it was a radical shift from previous albums such as Sunflower and Holland.
According to Stephen Love, Carl "dragged his feet" for the record, believing that the group was squandering its potential.
The Beach Boys' recent Endless Summer compilation was selling extremely well, and the band—without Brian—was touring non-stop, making them the biggest live draw in the US.
Guercio was then fired by the group and replaced by Mike's brother Stephen Love who urged the group to encourage Brian to return to the production helm.
He explained: "The hard truth is you don't have forever to tinker around with this stuff.
The pressing demands of business sometimes interfere with artistic indulgence.
The album was met with mixed reviews, but the highest sales the band had for a new studio album in many years, peaking at number 8 on the weekly Billboard albums chart.