Who Sang the Most Fleetwood Mac Songs? Lead Vocal Totals
If you polled five music fans at random and asked, "Who's the definitive Fleetwood Mac vocalist?," you might get five different answers.
The band's definitive pop lineup featured three elite-tier singer-songwriters: Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks — all of whom wrote massive hit songs and happened to sound nothing like each other. But captivating singers have drifted in and out of the Mac lineup over the decades, from blues pioneer Peter Green to suave rock craftsman Bob Welch.
All told, 14 Fleetwood Mac players have contributed at least one lead vocal. If you exclude briefly tenured original bassist Bob Brunning or present-day guitarists Mike Campbell and Neil Finn (who haven't recorded with the band at all), that leaves bassist John McVie as their only member without that achievement. (And yes, we're counting drummer Mick Fleetwood's hilariously awkward spoken-word parts.)
This was a tough list to assemble — partly due to sheer volume, partly due to hair-splitting. In the pursuit of clarity, we decided to focus on only canonical studio albums and singles issued under the Fleetwood Mac name, along with a handful of original live songs. That means we included B-sides, even the goofiest ones, but jettisoned some interesting outtakes and left out a boatload of collaborations and compilation tunes.
We looked through the band's catalog and did the vocal math, breaking down who sings lead on every Fleetwood Mac song below.
Fleetwood Mac (1968)
Peter Green - 6: "Merry Go Round," "Long Grey Mare," "Looking for Somebody," "No Place to Go," "I Loved Another Woman" and "The World Keep on Turning"
Jeremy Spencer - 6: "My Heart Beat Like a Hammer," "Hellhound on My Trail," "Shake Your Moneymaker," "My Baby's Good to Me," "Cold Black Night" and "Got to Move"
Jeremy Spencer and Peter Green shared equal spotlight on Fleetwood Mac's debut LP, each handling six of these dozen bare-essential, blues-rock cuts. Spencer mostly stuck to his roots, covering and channeling heroes like Elmore James ("Shake Your Moneymaker") and Robert Johnson ("Hellhound on My Trail"), while Green's smoky voice led the band through more adventurous moments, like acoustic dirge "The World Keep on Turning" and the simmering Latin-blues of "I Loved Another Woman" (a clear precursor to "Black Magic Woman").
Mr. Wonderful (1968)
Peter Green - 6: "Stop Messin' Round," "Rollin' Man," "Love That Burns," "If You Be My Baby," "Lazy Poker Blues" and "Trying So Hard to Forget"
Jeremy Spencer - 5: "I've Lost My Baby," "Dust My Broom," "Doctor Brown," "Need Your Love Tonight" and "Coming Home"
The guitarists split the general workload again on Mr. Wonderful, achieving the same creative balance between Spencer's straightforward blues-rock (including a pair of Elmore James covers) and Green's more colorful twists on the genre ("Rollin' Man," which finds Green belting soulful come-ons over a sultry sax section).
Then Play On (1969)
Danny Kirwan - 6: "Coming Your Way," "When You Say," "One Sunny Day," "Although the Sun Is Shining," "Without You" and "Like Crying" (with Green)
Peter Green - 5: "Closing My Eyes," "Show Biz Blues," "Rattlesnake Shake," "Before the Beginning" and "Like Crying" (with Kirwan)
Spencer stepped aside almost entirely for Fleetwood Mac's third LP, resulting in an almost-even vocal split between Green and newly recruited guitarist Danny Kirwan. (Spencer's material was left off the album and originally conceived as a separate EP. Those songs later emerged as bonus tracks.) Vocally, Then Play On is the career peak for both Green and Kirwan — from the former's anguished cry on "Before the Beginning" to the latter's daydream-y coo on "When You Say."
Kiln House (1970)
Jeremy Spencer - 6: "This Is the Rock," "Blood on the Floor," "Hi Ho Silver," "Buddy's Song," "One Together" and "Mission Bell"
Danny Kirwan - 3: "Station Man," "Jewel-Eyed Judy" and "Tell Me All the Things You Do"
After Green left Fleetwood Mac in an LSD haze, Spencer and Kirwan carried on as dual singer-songwriters. But Spencer, having set out of the last LP, took the creative reigns on Kiln House, fronting highlights like the Buddy Holly tribute "Buddy's Song" and the folky "Mission Bell." Despite his more limited role, Kirwan contributed the album's most tasteful vocals, including a vibrato-laced turn on the juicy blues-rocker "Tell Me All the Things You Do."
Future Games (1971)
Danny Kirwan - 3: "Woman of 1000 Years," "Sands of Time" and "Sometimes"
Christine McVie - 2: "Morning Rain" and "Show Me a Smile"
Bob Welch - 2: "Future Games" and "Lay It All Down"
Fleetwood Mac officially left behind their first era on the fittingly titled Future Games, which marked the vocal debut of two new singer-songwriters: keyboardist Christine McVie (an uncredited guest on Kiln House) and guitarist Bob Welch. It's the most progressive Mac LP: Welch wields a dark, bluesy croon on the eight-minute title track, and the spiraling guitar epic "Sands of Time" finds Kirwan at his sweetest and most melodic. Meanwhile, McVie was already edging toward her pop prime on the breezy ballad "Show Me a Smile."
Bare Trees (1972)
Danny Kirwan - 4: "Child of Mine," "Bare Trees," "Danny's Chant" and "Dust"
Christine McVie - 2: "Homeward Bound" and "Spare Me a Little of Your Love"
Bob Welch - 2: "The Ghost" and "Sentimental Lady"
Though never as famous as the trio configuration that followed them, the Mac's Kirwan-McVie-Welch lineup was easily the most versatile. Bare Trees flaunted that breadth, both sonically and vocally: Kirwan's wordless blues-rock chant on the wah-wah rave-up "Danny's Chant," Welch's soft-rock swoon on "Sentimental Lady," McVie's world-weary blues ache on "Homeward Bound."
Christine McVie - 3: "Remember Me," "Dissatisfied" and "Did You Ever Love Me" (with Bob Weston)
Bob Welch - 3: "Bright Fire," "Revelation" and "Night Watch"
Dave Walker - 2: "(I'm a) Road Runner," "The Derelict"
Bob Weston - 1: "Did You Ever Love Me" (with McVie)
Four cooks, one tiny kitchen. McVie and Welch carried the torch after Kirwan's contentious exit, but the results were hit or miss: McVie and new guitarist Bob Weston sound uncomfortable sharing the spotlight on "Did You Ever Love Me," a soft-rock throwaway with steel drums, and briefly tenured belter Dave Walker seems to be fronting a completely different band (specifically the Band) on banjo-saddled lowlight "The Derelict."
Mystery to Me (1973)
Bob Welch - 7: "Emerald Eyes," "Hypnotized," "Forever," "The City," "Miles Away," "Somebody" and "For Your Love"
Christine McVie - 5: "Believe Me," "Just Crazy Love," "Keep on Going," "The Way I Feel" and "Why"
Welch nabbed the most lead vocals on his two final Mac LPs, Mystery to Me and Heroes Are Hard to Find. On the former, he exuded his trademark effortless cool on "Forever," a collaboration with Weston and John McVie featuring an early drum machine, and the power-pop anthem "Miles Away." Christine McVie coasted along with a quintet of reliably silky turns.
Heroes Are Hard to Find (1974)
Bob Welch - 6: "Coming Home," "Angel," "Bermuda Triangle," "She's Changing Me," "Silver Heels" and "Born Enchanter"
Christine McVie - 4: "Heroes Are Hard to Find," "Come a Little Bit Closer," "Bad Loser" and "Prove Your Love"
Has any rock star ever sounded cooler than Welch on "Born Enchanter"? On the centerpiece of his final Mac LP, the guitarist glides into falsetto over a nimble blues-funk groove — not a shabby way to bow out. Christine McVie's vocals don't dazzle on the same level, but her tender, romantic tone on "Come a Little Bit Closer" comes a little bit closer.
Fleetwood Mac (1975)
Lindsey Buckingham - 5: "Monday Morning," "Blue Letter," Crystal," "World Turning" (with McVie) and "I'm So Afraid"
Christine McVie - 5: "Warm Ways," "Over My Head," "Say You Love Me," "World Turning" (with Buckingham) and "Say You Love Me"
Stevie Nicks - 2: "Landslide" and "Rhiannon"
Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks permanently altered Fleetwood Mac's DNA, injecting pop precision ("Monday Morning") and naked emotion ("Landslide") into a band that needed a creative spark. Christine McVie melded seamlessly into the mix, contributing two of her sweetest vocals to date ("Over My Head," "Say You Love Me"), but she and Buckingham also nodded to the band's bluesier past on "World Turning."
Lindsey Buckingham - 6: "Second Hand News," "Never Going Back Again," "Go Your Own Away," "Don't Stop" (with McVie), "The Chain" (with Nicks) and "I Don't Want to Know" (with Nicks)
Stevie Nicks - 5: "Gold Dust Woman," "I Don't Want to Know" (with Buckingham), "The Chain" (with Buckingham), "Dreams" and "Silver Springs"
Christine McVie - 4: "Don't Stop" (with Buckingham), "Songbird," "You Make Loving Fun" and "Oh Daddy"
All three Mac songwriters caught fire on their blockbuster 1977 record — there isn't a weak spot on Rumours sonically or vocally. Even as personal tensions threatened to pull the band apart, they were never more in tune behind the microphone: Buckingham hops on Christine McVie's resilient "Don't Stop," and he shares the spotlight with Nicks on the bouncy "I Don't Want to Know" and brooding "The Chain."
Lindsey Buckingham - 10: "The Ledge," "Save Me a Place," "Think About Me" (with Christine), "What Makes You Think You're the One"), "That's All For Everyone," "Not That Funny," "That's Enough for Me," "I Know I'm Not Wrong," "Walk a Thin Line" and "Tusk"
Christine McVie - 6: "Over & Over," "Think About Me" (with Lindsey), "Brown Eyes," "Never Make Me Cry," "Honey Hi" and "Never Forget"
Stevie Nicks - 5: "Beautiful Child," "Angel," "Sisters of the Moon," "Storms" and "Sara"
Everybody had the chance to stretch out on 1979's Tusk, a double LP equally defined by Buckingham experiments (the rockabilly-gone-post-punk mania of "That's Enough for Me"), epic rockers (Nicks' "Sisters of the Moon") and heartbreaking balladry (Christine McVie's "Over & Over"). While his bandmates turned in some of their most pristine vocals (like McVie on "Brown Eyes"), Buckingham tricked every trick in the book to sound bizarre. "I remember when he was recording ‘Not That Funny,’ he insisted he wanted a really weird-sounding vocal, so he made us tape a microphone to a tile floor," co-producer Ken Caillat said in Fleetwood Mac FAQ. "And he was doing a push-up over the microphone, singing, ’Not — that — funny — is it?!’ Anything to make it weirder was better on his songs.”
Christine McVie - 1: "One More Night"
Stevie Nicks - 1: "Fireflies"
Fleetwood Mac sneaked in a pair of new tunes on their first live LP, and both were worthy enough for a studio record. (And since the sound quality was already impeccable, they probably could have just used these versions.) Nicks brings the thunder on "Fireflies," which sounds like a slightly heavier take on her Mirage hit "Gypsy," and Christine McVie flutters over a measured rhythm section on "One More Night."
Lindsey Buckingham - 7: "Empire," "Hold Me" (with McVie), "Oh Diane," "Eyes of the World," "Can't Go Back," "Book of Love," "Cool Water" (B-side)
Christine McVie - 4: "Love in Store," "Only Over You," "Hold Me" (with Buckingham) and "Wish You Were Here"
Stevie Nicks - 3: "That's Alright," "Gypsy" and "Straight Back"
Any casual Mac fan has heard Nicks' powerhouse vocal on "Gypsy," but her bandmates also knock out Mirage's heavy-hitters — from Buckingham's quirky yelps on the New Wave singalong "Empire" to his belted duet with Christine McVie amid the cascading harmonies of "Hold Me."
Tango in the Night (1987)
Lindsey Buckingham - 9: "Big Love," "Caroline," "Tango in the Night," "Family Man," "When I See You Again" (with Nicks), "You and I, Part II," "You and I Part I" (B-side), "Ricky" (B-side, with McVie) and "Down Endless Street" (B-side)
Christine McVie - 5: "Everywhere," "Mystified," "Little Lies," "Isn't It Midnight" and "Ricky" (B-side, with Buckingham)
Stevie Nicks - 3: "Seven Wonders," "Welcome to the Room … Sara" and "When I See You Again" (with Buckingham)
Just like on Tusk, Buckingham dominates Tango in the Night: The guitarist sings polished, multi-tracked leads on nine tracks (including three B-sides), even assisting Nicks on her croaky ballad "When I See You Again." Christine McVie adds her usual sparkle on centerpieces like "Everywhere" and "Little Lies." But Nicks — who was battling vocal issues and an addiction to Klonopin, ironically prescribed to help keep her off cocaine — is hardly a presence on the album whatsoever, offering only a few strained, nasally leads. "I started not being able to get to Lindsey Buckingham's [home studio] on time, and I would get there and everybody was drinking, so I'd have a glass of wine. Don't mix tranquilizers and wine," she told Newsweek. "Then I'd sing horrific parts on his songs, and he would take the parts off. I was hardly on Tango of the Night, which I happen to love."
Greatest Hits (1988)
Christine McVie - 1: "As Long As You Follow"
Stevie Nicks - 1: "No Questions Asked"
The Mac stuck two snoozers onto their 1998 Greatest Hits LP: Christine McVie's mid-tempo ballad "As Long As You Follow" is only redeemed by the sleek guitar work of new recruit Rick Vito, while Nicks' by-the-numbers "No Questions Asked" drowns in synth goo.
Behind the Mask (1990)
Christine McVie - 6: "Skies the Limit," "In the Back of My Mind" (with Burnette, Nicks), "Do You Know" (with Billy Burnette), "Save Me," "Behind the Mask" and "When It Comes to Love" (with Burnette)
Stevie Nicks - 5: "The Second Time," "Freedom," "Affairs of the Heart," "In the Back of My Mind" (with Burnette, McVie) and "Love Is Dangerous" (with Rick Vito)
Billy Burnette - 5: "In the Back of My Mind" (with Nicks, McVie), "Do You Know" (with McVie), "When the Sun Goes Down" (with Vito), "Hard Feelings" and "When It Comes to Love" (with McVie)
Rick Vito - 3: "Love Is Dangerous" (With Nicks), "When the Sun Goes Down" (with Burnette) and "Stand on the Rock"
Mick Fleetwood - 1: "Lizard People" (B-side)
The band's first post-Buckingham album carries the same collaborative, mic-swap spirit as Rumours — even if the songs aren't as interesting. Nicks pairs with Vito on the twangy "Love Is Dangerous" and mingles with both Christine McVie and new guitarist Billy Burnette on the slow-burning "In the Back of My Mind." The men team up for the country-tinged "When the Sun Goes Down," and Burnette joins Christine McVie for a pair of tunes, the airy duet "When It Comes to Love" and adult-contemporary ballad "Do You Know."
25 Years — The Chain (1992)
Christine McVie - 2: "Heart of Stone" and "Love Shines"
Lindsey Buckingham - 1: "Make Me a Mask"
Stevie Nicks - 1: "Paper Doll"
Four-disc box set 25 Years – The Chain offered a bounty of hits, obscure nuggets and a quartet of surprisingly sturdy new songs. One, Buckingham's chiming "Make Me a Mask," even rises to the level of "lost classic." It's technically a solo cut, but that's part of what makes it so compelling: Over a skeletal framework of shivering, digitally manipulated acoustic guitars, he stacked his voice into a virtual choir — no rhythm section necessary.
Christine McVie - 5: "Hollywood (Some Other Kind of Town)," "I Do," "Sooner or Later," "Nights in Estoril" and "All Over Again"
Bekka Bramlett - 5: "Talkin' to My Heart" (with Burnette), "Winds of Change," "Nothing Without You," "Dreamin' the Dream" and "I Wonder Why" (with Mason)
Billy Burnette - 2: "Talkin' to My Heart" (with Bramlett) and "I Got It In for You"
Dave Mason - 2: "Blow By Blow" and "I Wonder Why" (with Bramlett)
Fleetwood - 1: "These Strange Times"
A record five vocalists appear on the Mac's 16th LP. If only that talent weren't wasted on such a lukewarm pile of songs. Christine McVie and new recruit Bekka Bramlett lead the charge with five leads each; Burnette turns in a pair, along with former Traffic member Dave Mason (in his lone Mac spot). Forget all that, though, and see if you make it all the way through Fleetwood's truly ridiculous spoken-word on the seven-minute New Age-rock lark "These Strange Times."
The Dance (1997)
Lindsey Buckingham - 1: "My Little Demon"
Christine McVie - 1: "Temporary One"
Stevie Nicks - 1: "Sweet Girl"
The classic quintet lineup reunited for this multi-platinum live album, which sparked a full North American tour. Each songwriter even churned out a brand new song: Buckingham's snarling "My Little Demon," the harmony-heavy pop of Christine McVie's "Temporary One" and the mid-tempo soft-rock of Nicks' "Sweet Girl."
Say You Will (2003)
Lindsey Buckingham - 9: "What's the World Coming To," "Murrow Turning Over in His Grave," "Miranda," "Red Rover," "Peacekeeper," "Come," "Steal Your Heart Away," "Bleed to Love Her" and "Say Goodbye"
Stevie Nicks - 9: "Illume (9-11)," "Throw Down," "Say You Will," "Smile At You," "Running Through the Garden," "Silver Girl," "Everybody Finds Out," "Destiny Rules" and "Goodbye Baby"
Losing Christine McVie from the lineup limited Fleetwood Mac's vocal attack and songwriting scope, but that narrowed focus allowed Buckingham and Nicks to empty their cupboards for a massive track listing: The singers each penned nine tracks, running the gamut from the experimental (Buckingham's overlapping vocals on the bluesy "Murrow Turning Over in His Grave") to Nicks' croaky pop hook on "Say You Will."
Extended Play (2013)
Lindsey Buckingham - 4: "Sad Angel," "Without You" (with Nicks), "It Takes Time" and "Miss Fantasy"
Stevie Nicks - 1: "Without You" (with Buckingham)
Fleetwood Mac followed Say You Will with a low-stakes EP that feels more like a Buckingham leftovers project. The guitarist sings on all four tracks, including the Nicks duet "Without You" (which sounds more than a tad like Cat Stevens' "Peace Train").
"I Believe My Time Ain't Long" Single (1967)
Jeremy Spencer - 1: "I Believe My Time Ain't Long"
Peter Green - 1: "Rambling Pony"
On Fleetwood Mac's debut single, guitarist Jeremy Spencer pledges his allegiance to the Delta blues, reworking a Robert Johnson/Elmore James standard for a new generation. But Peter Green's B-side is infinitely more compelling, with the co-frontman digging deep for a cinematic moan.
"Black Magic Woman" Single (1968)
Peter Green - 1: "Black Magic Woman"
Jeremy Spencer -1: "The Sun Is Shining"
Green fulfilled the potential of "I Loved Another Woman" by adding some black magic. On the plodding B-side, Spencer hollered one of the scratchiest, rowdiest vocals of his career.
"Need Your Love So Bad" Single (1968)
Peter Green - 1: "Need Your Love So Bad"
The quietly sizzling orchestral arrangement on "Need Your Love So Bad," a reworked version of Little Willie John's 1995 R&B hit, brings out a new level of dexterity and soul in Green's voice.
"Man of the World" Single (1969)
Peter Green - 1: "Man of the World"
Jeremy Spencer - 1: "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonite"
The atmospheric "Man of the World" finds Green at his most tender. What a contrast on the B-side: With the stomping "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonite," Spencer slips into impersonator mode by channeling vintage Elvis Presley.
"Oh Well" Single (1969)
Peter Green - 1: "Oh Well, Part 1"
The epic "Oh Well" feels incomplete in the slimmed-down single version, lacking the ambient contrast of the instrumental second half. But Green's vocal is a powerhouse no matter the edit — the rhythmic start-stop phrasing is the technique of a true master.
"The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)" Single (1970)
Peter Green - 1: "The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)"
Green unloads some menacing imagery on this heavy riff-monster, set around a night "so black that the darkness cooks." The growl-to-falsetto vocal, swimming around all those harmonized guitar leads, is pure ecstasy.
"Dragonfly" / "The Purple Dancer" Single (1971)
Jeremy Spencer - 1: "The Purple Dancer" (with Kirwan)
Danny Kirwan - 2: "Dragonfly" and "The Purple Dancer" (with Spencer)
This obscure, psychedelic delicacy is Kirwan at his most spaced-out, singing in hazy, overdubbed harmony over a latticework of spindly guitars. He tag teams the bluesier B-side with Spencer, who'd already left the group by the single's release.